Cookies on the Gambling Commission website

The Gambling Commission website uses cookies to make the site work better for you. Some of these cookies are essential to how the site functions and others are optional. Optional cookies help us remember your settings, measure your use of the site and personalise how we communicate with you. Any data collected is anonymised and we do not set optional cookies unless you consent.

Set cookie preferences

You've accepted all cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

Skip to main content


National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms 2019 to 2022

The sole aim of this three-year (2019 to 2022) National Strategy was to move faster and go further to reduce gambling harms.

Patterns of play

We need to understand how patterns of play vary across different environments, products and characteristics. The research required in this area, as outlined in the ‘Research to inform action’ section of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, will help us better understand if, how and why some gambling products are more harmful than others.

Answering these questions will involve analysis of real play data provided by the gambling industry, and linking it to data on the socio-economic, demographic and low-risk/moderate-risk/problem gambling status of gamblers using different products.

To achieve this, all sectors of the gambling industry will need to regularly share data and make it available for research.

We also aim to establish an open repository for industry data, which would allow data to be collected and retained on an ongoing basis for harm-minimisation and research purposes.

This is a complex task, but will contribute efficiencies and benefits to researchers, industry, policy-makers and other key stakeholders. It will enable multiple research projects to be conducted from the same datasets and minimise the burden placed on both the industry and research participants.

We have a reasonable understanding of patterns of play on certain types of gaming machine, but this has been limited to play with sessions.

We need to analyse industry data to explore how patterns of play vary across other products and environments, and which characteristics are most strongly associated with harm.

This will help us to encourage safer play and target interventions and regulatory change where they will be most effective.

Image 10 - Research aims for patterns of play - the image shows 3 circles with text in them. The first circle describes what we know, the second describes what we need to do and the third describes what this will help us to understand.

Research projects

Using industry data to understand patterns of play

This study will form phase 1 of our work to understand patterns of play, focussing on online gambling. It will involve an extensive analysis of real play data provided by online gambling companies, and surveys to link this data to socio-demographic data and problem gambling status.

This work is being delivered by NatCen and the University of Liverpool. Read more in the understanding patterns of play project brief (PDF) and risky gambling environments project invitation to tender (PDF).

Analysing bank transactional data

In addition to analysing industry data to explore patterns of play, we are also keen to learn more from bank transaction data. GambleAware commissioned the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) to conduct research, with two reports published in 2021: Monzo data analysis (opens in a new tab) and HSBC data analysis (opens in a new tab) .

Amongst the findings, BIT identified that Monzo’s gambling block was used by both gamblers and non-gamblers, but gamblers were more likely to use the tool after increased gambling activity and were more likely to subsequently lift the blocks. They also found that more engaged gamblers spent more on unarranged overdraft fees (HSBC) and transferred less money into savings pots (Monzo).

The research highlights the potential of financial industry data to predict, identify and mitigate gambling harms in both the short and long term, as well as highlighting the potential for more nuanced interactions and tools that might benefit gamblers.

Gambling Data Centre

As part of this programme of work we need to identify an approach to establishing a Gambling Data Centre to store data and make it available for further use and secondary research.

The University of Leeds produced a scoping study for how this independent repository of gambling industry data (PDF) could be structured. The recommendations are being explored further with relevant stakeholders.

Previous section
Defining, measuring and monitoring gambling-related harms
Next section
Changes in gambling behaviour over time
Is this page useful?
Back to top