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Exploring gambler attitudes towards Financial Vulnerability and Financial Risk Check proposals

The Gambling Commission’s report on the attitudes and opinions of online gamblers regarding the proposals for financial vulnerability and financial risk checks.

  1. Contents
  2. Executive summary

Executive summary

This summary contains findings from new research commissioned by the Gambling Commission, exploring online gamblers’ attitudes towards the proposed financial risk assessments and financial vulnerability checks that were consulted upon in the Summer 2023 public consultation.

The consultation sought views on 2 types of checks:

The first was putting in place a standard approach to a light-touch check to identify customers who may be particularly financially vulnerable (financial vulnerability checks). Government and the Commission proposed that these checks are conducted at £125 net loss within a rolling 30-day period or £500 within a rolling 365-day period. This would identify significant financial vulnerability such as where a customer is subject to a bankruptcy order.

The second was a more detailed financial risk assessment at unusually high loss levels where it seems proportionate to understand more about the potential risk of harm. These assessments are proposed to be informed primarily by credit reference agency data. Government and the Commission proposed that these checks apply where there are losses greater than £1,000 within a rolling 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days. They also proposed that the triggers for enhanced assessments should be lower for those aged 18 to 24 years old.

The research has been conducted by Yonder Consulting as part of the Commission’s Consumer Voice research programme and took the form of a mixed-methodology (qualitative and quantitative) project.

Purpose and approach

The research was designed to:

  • explore gamblers’ perceptions and whether they support the package of proposals
  • understand gamblers’ views on the individual proposals, including perceptions around effectiveness and why the gamblers hold those views
  • understand gamblers’ responses to how each proposal is implemented, such as: net loss thresholds, type of check, data use, validity periods and potential outcomes of the check
  • understand any differences between types of gambler, for example: different ages, more active gamblers or those scoring higher on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) scale.

Yonder designed a deliberative research approach to enable participants to reflect upon the proposed policies in an environment free from media influence where information could be explained and explored. The qualitative phase consisted of 4 focus groups (2 held in person, and 2 carried out online) and 4 in-depth interviews (a total of 28 participants) with a cross-section of online gamblers and was conducted in August 2023. The reflections from the qualitative sessions were used to inform a quantitative survey phase. Data was collected from 1,000 online gamblers in November 2023.

The findings

Overall response to the proposals

Yonder found high levels of overall support for the proposals in both the qualitative and quantitative stages, and a recognition that the proposals are necessary to protect online gamblers from harm. Despite some variation between types of online gamblers, the majority across all groups still support the proposals being implemented.

Key findings include:

  • 78 percent agree that the package of proposals is necessary to protect people from gambling harm (6 percent disagree) and 74 percent would support the package of proposals being implemented (7 percent disagree)
  • 61 percent disagree that the package of proposals is unclear in its aim and/or purpose of protecting people from gambling harm (16 percent agree) and 46 percent disagree the package is disproportionate (21 percent agree)
  • respondents who scored higher on the PGSI and reported more active online gambling accounts were less supportive of the package of proposals.

Financial Vulnerability Checks

For Financial Vulnerability Checks, Yonder found broad support for the current proposals:

  • 56 percent felt that the proposed threshold of £125 in 30 days is the right amount, and 52 percent felt that the £500 in the 365-day proposed threshold is also the right amount
  • of those that disagreed, respondents were more likely to feel the proposed thresholds are too low (30 percent and 31 percent respectively), a view that was also expressed in the qualitative stage. It was felt that the proposed threshold would impact most online gamblers and when presented with the full proposal and frictionless nature of the check, some felt it would be better as a blanket check across all customers
  • a majority (68 percent) were favourable towards the use of publicly available data to check if a customer was financially vulnerable (11 percent were not favourable towards this). However, there is also concern over whether this type of data would miss people who are financially vulnerable but do not have these public records.

Financial Risk Assessments

For Financial Risk Assessments, Yonder again found broad support for the current proposals:

  • 51 percent felt the thresholds of £1000 in 24 hours and £2000 in 90 days are the right amounts (35 percent and 30 percent felt they are too high, whilst 6 percent and 10 percent felt they were too low). Whilst both thresholds were also broadly supported in the qualitative phase, online gamblers struggled to relate to the 90-day time period with their typical week or calendar month view of gambling
  • the proposed lower thresholds for young adults received support amongst survey respondents (74 percent agreed, 15 percent disagreed), even amongst 18 to 24 year olds. Despite mild objections in the qualitative stage regarding the reasoning behind the lower thresholds, there was widespread support for higher protection
  • survey respondents were favourable towards the use of credit reference agency data (65 percent favourable, 14 percent unfavourable). This was reflected in the qualitative stage, although support is dependent on assurance that the check would have no impact on an individual’s credit record.

Research implications

Overall response to the proposals:

  • the consumer perspective suggests that the Commission should continue forward with this package of proposals as results from both quantitative and qualitative phases suggest that the proposals, as currently formulated, would receive broad support from the gambling population
  • the research findings strongly evidence the need for the Commission to take time to provide adequate detail around the need, mechanics, and effectiveness of proposals in order to overcome initial resistance, and encourage all types of gamblers to display similar levels of support to the wider gambling population.
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Introduction - Gambler attitudes towards Financial Vulnerability and Financial Risk Check proposals
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