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Statistics and research release

Gambling participation and the prevalence of problem gambling survey: Final experimental statistics stage (Step 3)

Gambling Commission report produced by NatCen on the final step in the experimental phase of the gambling participation and the prevalence of problem gambling survey.

Summary

The Gambling Commission has completed the final step in the experimental phase of its project to improve the way we collect data on adult gambling participation and the prevalence of those who experience difficulties or harms through their gambling. This project started with a consultation in 2020.

Following the publication of the Step 1 and Step 2 experiments, NatCen have now completed the final step (Step 3) in our experimental phase. Step 3 involved taking the learnings from experiments 1 and 2 and applying them to ensure that the survey design and questionnaire content was robust and fit for continuous data collection.

The following content and Excel data tables contain the findings from the Step 3 experiment. The findings are experimental statistics which mean they are not yet fully developed and are still under evaluation.

Details

The findings are based on a sample of approximately 4,000 respondents, with data collected between April and May 2023. Step 3 findings were collected in the experimental phase which means they are still in a testing phase and not yet fully developed. This is because we have been developing the methodology for collecting these statistics, refining the questions we ask in the survey and the statistics do not have full coverage yet, because they were collected over a period of two months, rather than across the full year.

We are publishing these experimental statistics so that we can discuss the findings with potential users and stakeholders, as we have done throughout the project. We want users to become familiar with and understand the impact of new methods and approaches on the findings, as it is intended these will become official statistics which will replace previous sources such as the Health Surveys and our quarterly telephone survey.

The data presented from this stage of work is not comparable to previous gambling survey publications due to changes in the methodology.

Summary of experimental findings

  • 50 percent of respondents gambled on any activity in the past 4 weeks, with participation higher in males than females. In the last 12 months, 61 percent of respondents have gambled on any activity
  • the most popular activities to participate in, in the past four weeks were the National Lottery (32 percent), charity lotteries (15 percent) and National Lottery scratchcards (13 percent)
  • most gamblers took part in gambling for monetary reasons (the chance of winning big money or to make money) or for enjoyment reasons (because it's fun or exciting)
  • in terms of how they felt about gambling (on a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being ‘hated it’ and 10 being ‘loved it’), 44 percent of gamblers rated their last gambling experience as at least a score of six out of ten. A further 37 percent selected the mid-point score of five out of ten
  • overall, 2.5 percent of respondents scored 8 plus on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) screen with a further 3.5 percent scoring between 3 and 7, and 8 percent scoring between 1 and 2. The remainder of respondents either had a PGSI score of 0 (47.1 percent) or were a non-gambler in the past 12 months (38.9 percent).

Given the change in the methodology, we have outlined as follows the strengths and limitations to our new approach.

Strengths of our approach

The survey has undergone a comprehensive development phase, including pilot testing, experimental testing, and stakeholder engagement. This approach consolidates all the Commission’s information needs into a single high quality survey ensuring consistency and efficiency.

A push-to-web methodology is cost effective compared to more traditional methods and allows increased numbers of people to be interviewed. This will enable the Commission to conduct more detailed analyses.

The inclusion of a paper alternative to the online survey enables the recruitment of adults who may be less technologically literate, may not have access to the internet, or just prefer an alternative option, thus increasing the representativeness of the sample.  

The survey includes a set of core participation and impact measures which meet our official statistics requirement, but also includes a set of modular questions which will allow us to delve into certain topical themes and policy issues as required.

The gambling participation activity list has been updated to reflect the current gambling landscape. More granular information on each activity is included in the survey, including capturing participation on both the online and in-person element of each gambling activity. This will provide a more detailed breakdown of activities than what we have been able to do previously.

The push-to-web methodology is robust and future proof. In recent years, increasing numbers of other public sector bodies have also adopted the push-to-web approach as their choice of methodology for similar population surveys due to the increasing difficulties of using a face-to-face approach.

The self-administered data collection methods used in this survey are likely to mitigate social desirability in responses to questions about sensitive topics (for example, about their gambling behaviour). The self-administered approach also removes any possible interviewer bias.

As the survey is gambling focused, it means more detail can be collected about gambling behaviours than is possible in a more general survey, where the number of questions that can be included is limited.

Limitations

With a push-to-web methodology, interviewers are not present to collect the data in person and accuracy of answers relies on participants understanding the questions asked and following the instructions. This is mitigated somewhat by keeping questioning and survey routing clear and simple.

Compared with face-to-face interviewing methods, remote data collection methods typically have lower response rates.

The Step 3 experimental data is based on a sample of approximately 4,000 respondents, one-fifth of the sample size expected annually when we move to the official statistics phase. Upon moving to this phase, data gathered from 20,000 respondents annually will make the survey one of the largest gambling surveys in the world.

The experimental statistics use a new methodology, and therefore results are not comparable to data from previous alternative surveys such as the Health Surveys. With time, the data collected from the new methodology will grow and enable us to look at trends and comparisons across this data source.

Surveys using predominantly or entirely online self-completion, produce consistently higher estimates of gambling harm, compared to surveys using a paper self-completion questionnaire as part of a face-to-face interview. This is highlighted in the report by Professor Patrick Sturgis - Methodological factors affecting estimates of the prevalence of gambling harm in the United Kingdom: A multi-survey study (opens in a new tab). This is why it’s important that respondents are given the opportunity to respond on paper if they prefer, currently around 40 percent of respondents are choosing to respond on paper.

The new survey is a gambling focused survey, rather than a health-related survey containing gambling questions (like the Health Survey). Therefore, the survey may appeal to gamblers more than non-gamblers. To mitigate against this, we have strengthened wording in the invitation letter to encourage all respondents including non-gamblers to take part in the research and where there are more than two adults living in the household, we have also included instructions for the two adults whose birthdays are next in the household to take part in the survey.

Data and downloads

Files

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