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Gambling participation in 2019: behaviour, awareness and attitudes

A report providing an overview of consumer gambling behaviour in Great Britain in 2019

Executive summary

Background and context

This report provides an overview of consumer gambling behaviour in Great Britain in 2019, based on quarterly telephone and online tracking surveys conducted by Populus on behalf of the Gambling Commission.

The report includes data on participation in gambling activities in the past four weeks, online gambling behaviour, awareness of gambling management tools and perceptions and attitudes towards gambling.

The report also includes data on the prevalence of problem, moderate-risk and low-risk gambling. This data is taken from a separate source, the NHS Digital Health Survey for England (2018), due to its use of the full PGSI (Problem Gambling Severity Index) and DSM-IV screens1.

Details on the survey methodologies used can be found in the Appendix.

Survey findings

Gambling participation

Our research found that overall, gambling participation has remained stable compared to 2018 with 47% of respondents aged 16+ having participated in at least one form of gambling in the past four weeks in 2019 (46% in 2018). By age, the highest level of gambling participation was found among the 45-54 age group (53%) however, if those who only participated in NL draws are excluded, those in the age group 25-34 had the highest participation level (41%).

Amongst respondents:

  • The National Lottery draws remain the most popular gambling activity, followed by other lotteries and scratchcards
  • Football and horse racing are the most popular betting activities
  • Over half of past four week gamblers (51%) gamble at least once a week
  • 21% of all respondents have gambled online in the past four weeks, a significant increase since 2018.

Problem gambling estimates

The latest data from the NHS Digital Health Survey for England 20182 shows that the prevalence of problem gambling (according to the PGSI or DSM-IV screen) was 0.5%.

By comparison, the Commission’s regular telephone survey (2019), which uses the PGSI mini-screen3 observed a problem gambling rate of 0.6% for Great Britain, however we recommend the use of the figures taken from the NHS Digital Health Survey England due to its robustness and use of the full PGSI and DSM-IV screens.

Online gambling behaviour

Mobile phones remain the most popular method of gambling online in 2019. Among online gamblers, mobile phone use for gambling significantly increased (50%, an increase of 6 percentage points from 2018), whilst laptop use significantly declined (38%, a 6 percentage point decrease from 2018).

Those who gamble on mobile phones were typically in the younger age groups, with 76% of 18-24 year olds, 72% of 25-34 year olds and 66% of 35-44 year olds who gamble online, using a mobile to gamble in the previous four weeks. This contrasts with 14% of those aged 65+.

Typically, online gamblers play at home (95%), however, there has been an increase in the proportion of online gamblers gambling in the workplace (15%, a 3 percentage point increase). On average, online gamblers have three accounts with online gambling operators and 21% have bet in-play in the last 4 weeks.

Over half (56%) of online gamblers were registered online with more than one account, and 20% of those aged 18-24 had more than five online accounts.

In terms of eSports4, 6% of all respondents have ever bet on eSports (money or items), with participation rates highest among 18-24 and 25-34 year olds.

Consumer analysis

Overall, 47% of gamblers were aware of the self-exclusion facility, a significant 12 percentage point increase over a five year period (35% in 2015).

One in five gamblers (20%) have read terms and conditions, of which 26% felt they had been in a situation where the terms and conditions of an operator had been unfair. 65% of those who had read terms and conditions reported finding them helpful, which is a significant increase on the previous year (61% in Year to December 2018).

Overall, 7% of gamblers have ever made a complaint to or about a gambling operator, with rates highest among 18-24 year olds (12%) and 25-34 year olds (11%).

In terms of social media and advertising:

  • 23% of online gamblers follow a gambling company on a social media platform with rates highest among 18-24 year olds
  • Facebook remains the most popular social media platform on which online gamblers follow gambling companies
  • 51% of respondents have seen a gambling advert on the television in the past week, a significant decline on 2018
  • 44% of online gamblers were prompted to spend money on a gambling activity due to adverts that they saw
  • 52% of online gamblers (with a social media account) were prompted to spend money on a gambling activity due to adverts they had seen on a social media platform.

In total, 29% of online gamblers had ever participated in online gambling style games. Over a five year period, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of respondents playing slot or fruit machine games.

Perceptions and attitudes

Overall, 29% of respondents think that gambling is conducted fairly and can be trusted. Whilst the figure is stable since 2018, it does represent a significant decline over the past 10 years.

In total, 43% think that gambling is associated with criminal activity (a significant decline since 2018). Gambling addicts stealing to carry on gambling was the crime that respondents associate the most with gambling.

In addition, 82% of respondents think there are too many opportunities for gambling nowadays and 73% think that gambling is dangerous for family life, however, 60% of respondents think that people should have the right to gamble whenever they want.

Having the best odds and the reputation of a company for being fair and trustworthy were the top factors that were important for to gamblers when first selecting an operator to gamble with.


1 Details on the PGSI and DSM-IV screens are available in the Appendix

2 Data for Wales 2018 is not currently available, although will be released in 2020. Gambling questions were not included on the Health Survey for Scotland in 2018, so data will not be available for this year.

3 Details on the PGSI mini-screen can be found in our PDF Developing a Short Form of the PGSI (opens in new tab)

4 eSports (Electronic Sports) are the competitive playing of video games

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