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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. 1 - Summary of findings

1 - Summary of findings

Financial check context

In the quantitative survey, few gamblers reported experience or awareness of having undergone financial checks prior to research (14 percent). In the qualitative research there was confusion and conflation over what a financial check might be, including age and identity checks, or even app wellbeing reminders to take a break.

Overall response to the proposals

In the quantitative research, at a total level, there was widespread agreement with the necessity of, and support for, the package of proposals (78 percent agreed the proposals are necessary, and 74 percent agreed that the proposals are something they would support being implemented). This was supported by the qualitative research, where even the more active and higher spend gamblers supported the underlying need to protect those in a financially vulnerable position through financial checks of some kind.

Financial Vulnerability Check

Proposed threshold perceptions

For the Financial Vulnerability Check the majority of survey participants agreed that the proposed thresholds are appropriate (56 percent that £125 in 30 days is appropriate, 52 percent that £500 in 12 months is appropriate). However, there was a significant proportion who felt the threshold too low (30 percent for £125 in 30 days and 31 percent for £500 in 12 months). Concern that the proposed thresholds are too low was reflected in the qualitative phase. Here, some gamblers felt that the proposed thresholds would not be targeted enough, amounting to a check on every gambler rather than those that were truly financially vulnerable. After being presented with the full proposal and frictionless nature of the proposed checks, some gamblers felt it would be better as a blanket check conducted at account opening for all customers.

Potential use of publicly available data, and perceived disruptiveness

For the Financial Vulnerability Check, there was a high proportion of acceptance (68 percent NET ‘favourable’) but also some opposition or uncertainty (11 percent NET ‘unfavourable’ and 17 percent ‘neither favourable nor unfavourable’) about the potential use of publicly available data. Similarly, when gamblers were asked about the perceived disruption of the checks, most felt they would be undisruptive (58 percent NET ‘undisruptive’), but 1 in 10 felt that they would be disruptive (11 percent NET ‘disruptive’), and a quarter could not give a firm answer (24 percent ‘neither undisruptive nor disruptive’).

Meanwhile, in the qualitative phase, whilst some gamblers felt public domain data including bankruptcy and County Court Judgments (CCJs) are a good, unobtrusive ‘first line of defence’, others were unsure that they are in fact publicly available and what their application would involve, until fully explained. 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 Assessment

Proposed threshold perceptions

For the Financial Risk Assessment, the majority of survey participants agreed that the proposed thresholds are appropriate (51 percent for both ‘binge gambling’, £1000 in 24 hours and ‘unaffordable losses over time’, £2000 in 90 days). However, in these cases considerable proportions answered that the proposed thresholds are too high for both checks (35 percent for ‘binge gambling’, £1000 in 24 hours and 30 percent for ‘unaffordable losses over time’, £2000 in 90 days).

Qualitatively, findings suggested a more nuanced picture. Gamblers were largely comfortable with the ‘binge gambling’ proposed threshold (£1000 in 24 hours) as this felt like a concerning amount to lose in such a short time period, and clearly indicative of worrying behaviour.

However, when it came to unaffordable losses over time (£2000 in 90 days), gamblers struggled to connect with the notion of losses over such a time period (also taking into account losses in the 90 days previous). This was because they were more likely to think of their gambling, and indeed wider spending, on a weekly or calendar-month basis. So, whilst £2000 felt like a lot of money to lose it was difficult for gamblers to correlate this easily with their own spending and/or gambling.

Potential use of credit reference data and perceived disruptiveness

There was broad support in the quantitative phase for the use of credit reference agency data to perform the Financial Risk Assessment (65 percent NET ‘favourable). Yet again, however, there were considerable proportions of either uncertainty (18 percent ‘neither favourable nor unfavourable’) or direct opposition (14 percent NET ‘unfavourable’). In the qualitative phase, the use of this data was accepted and well-understood as an effective, established indicator of affordability, however there were strong concerns voiced over whether these checks would impact an individual’s credit score and whether it being performed by a gambling company would be visible anywhere on that individual’s credit record.

In terms of disruptiveness, more people believed the Financial Risk Assessment would be undisruptive (45 percent NET ‘undisruptive’) but there were higher degrees of uncertainty (29 percent ‘neither undisruptive nor disruptive’) or concern (21 percent NET ‘disruptive’) compared to the Financial Vulnerability Check. In the qualitative phase gamblers considered the use of credit reference agency data to be relatively invasive, with most voicing discomfort at this type of data being shared with a gambling company due to a lack of trust.

Perceptions of proposed lower threshold for gamblers aged 18 to 24 years old

When asked to consider whether a lower ‘net loss’ threshold was appropriate for gamblers aged 18 to 24 years old, quantitatively there was widespread support for the idea and little difference of opinion based on gambler age. However, the qualitative phase revealed some objection to the idea since those aged 18 to 24 years old were considered to have higher disposable income and less responsibility than older people. Different treatment therefore felt unnecessary. Despite these mild objections, qualitative participants were not opposed to specific protections for younger gamblers. Taken together, findings suggest that there would be widespread support for the proposed lower thresholds for this age group among the gambler population.

Difference of opinion based on gambling activity

Throughout quantitative research, a difference of opinion based on gambling activity (a higher number of active accounts or higher Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) score) was observed. Those with 4 or more active accounts, or scoring 8 or more on the PGSI, were consistently more negative about the proposals. Nevertheless, results from more active and higher risk gambler groups tended to align broadly with those of the wider gambler population. For example, where a majority of the gambler population showed overall support for the package of proposals (70 percent), a majority of more active and higher risk gamblers also showed support (56 percent of those with 4 or more active accounts, and 54 percent of those scoring 8 or more on the PGSI).

In the qualitative research, where there was more time and space to immerse in details of the proposals, there was consistent acceptance across gambling activity levels. It was often those who had higher gambling activity who could more readily recognise the need for some protections to be put in place, especially if they had lost large amounts in the past themselves. Results suggest that there may be higher initial opposition to the proposals among these groups, but that if provided with adequate detail around the need, mechanics and effectiveness of proposals, these types of gamblers would display similar levels of support to the wider gambler population.

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Research approach - Gambler attitudes towards Financial Vulnerability and Financial Risk Check proposals
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The Financial Check context - Gambler attitudes towards Financial Vulnerability and Financial Risk Check proposals
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