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Gambling participation and the prevalence of problem gambling survey: Experimental statistics stage

Gambling Commission report produced by NatCen on the experimental statistics stage of the gambling participation and the prevalence of problem gambling survey.


The Gambling Commission exists to safeguard consumers and the wider public by ensuring that gambling is fair and safe. The Commission’s work is underpinned by two main pieces of legislation:

Under section 26 of the Gambling Act 2005, the Commission has responsibility for collecting and disseminating information relating to the extent and impact of gambling in Great Britain. In order to do this, the Commission collects gambling participation and problem gambling prevalence data via surveys of adults in Great Britain. The data is published as official statistics, that is produced in accordance with the standards set out by the Government Statistical Service in the Code of Practice for Statistics (opens in new tab).

To date, a variety of data collection approaches have been used to meet this requirement, including as a:

  • section of separate Health Surveys for England, Scotland and Wales3
  • quarterly telephone survey which supplements the Health Surveys by providing a more regular measure of participation and problem gambling prevalence.

In December 2020, the Commission launched a consultation on gambling participation and prevalence research (opens in new tab) to gather views on proposals to develop a single, high quality methodology to measure gambling participation and prevalence of problem gambling. The aim was to have a more efficient, cost effective data source providing robust and timely insight and the flexibility to swiftly provide information on emerging trends. The results of the gambling participation and prevalence research consultation were published in June 2021.

In October 2021 NatCen Social Research (NatCen), working with the University of Glasgow and Bryson Purdon Social Research, was commissioned to take on the pilot project to test the new data collection methodology in 2021 to 2022.

The pilot was successful in attracting participants and exceeded response rate expectations. Estimates of gambling participation and problem gambling were somewhat higher than those based on the Health Survey for England (HSE) 2018 (opens in new tab), but were lower than those typically generated by online panel surveys and thus broadly commensurate with expectations at this stage.

The analysis highlighted two potential causes of differences. Firstly, it was possible that response rates were higher among those who gambled than those who did not gamble, which in turn may have led to somewhat higher estimates of gambling participation and problematic gambling. Secondly, it appeared that there were differences between the two surveys in the way that survey participants completed the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), with the differences greatest for women.

Upon its successful evaluation at the pilot stage, the methodology was rolled out in summer 2022 for data collection under experimental statistics. Experimental statistics (opens in new tab) are a subset of newly developed or innovative official statistics undergoing evaluation. The experimental statistics phase was contracted to NatCen, working with the University of Glasgow. Subject to the success of the experimental phase, the survey will move, in July 2023, to continuous official statistics data collection.


3 These are large scale face-to-face population surveys where gambling questions are included approximately every two years.

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