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Assessment of online games design changes

Gambling Commission report focusing on research conducted into the impact of the online gambling games design changes.

Reduced 'problem gambling' rates


It is very difficult to assess the impact of the changes on ‘problem gambler’ rates pre and post changes. Whilst the Health Survey for England was undertaken in 2018 and 2021, results are not comparable due to the change in methodology between survey years. The new Gambling Survey for Great Britain will be able to track this information in the future, but given that it is currently in development and won’t be launched until the end of 2023, data is not available for inclusion in this assessment.

It is reasonable to hope that if there are positive impacts recorded for the preceding outcomes, the final impact should be a reduction in the experience of gambling-related harms because of online slots products. The best proxy for assessing harms that is available at this time is the proportion of gamblers that are considered to be ‘problem gamblers’ according to the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth version (DSM-IV).

The Gambling Behaviour in Great Britain report (2016) from multiple health surveys reported that 9.2 percent of respondents were considered to be ‘problem gamblers’ according to either the PGSI or DSM-IV for ‘online gambling on slots, casino or bingo games’, and this rate was 8.5 percent in the Health Survey for England (2018). The Health Survey for England (2021) does not currently report rates of ‘problem gambling’ by activity but results are not comparable to 2018 due to a coronavirus (COVID-19) enforced methodological change.

The Gambling Commission is currently developing the Gambling Survey for Great Britain pilot, a new survey for collecting timely information on consumer gambling behaviour. However the results will not be comparable with Health Survey results due to methodological differences. The recorded rate is also likely to differ as a result of focusing more accurately on online slots products, rather than ‘slots, casino or bingo’.

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