Has Britain Got a Problem Gambling Issue?

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Has Britain Got a Problem Gambling Issue?

There has been a new report released by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) that states that over two million Britons are struggling with problem gambling, or are currently at risk of becoming a problem gambler. The data contained in this report, entitled “Gambling behavior in Great Britain in 2015′, stems from the annual Health Surveys produced by Scotland and England, as well as that from the Wales Omnibus survey.

UKGC Report

The Gambling Commission’s report collected data from people of many different backgrounds and demographics, who were each asked about the ways that they gamble, and how they have done so over the previous 12 months. The surveys were taken by those people aged 16 years and older, who also live in a private home.


The results of these surveys subsequently proved startling, after they showed that 63 percent of participants reported that they had gambled over the past year. Of the group surveyed, 66 percent of men reported having gambled over the period in question, falling slightly to 59 percent for women.

In terms of age, gambling was more common amongst 35-to 44-year olds with the percentage for both genders at 72 percent. It was least common among those in the age range of 16 to 24, though, with the figure coming in at 58 percent for both genders. If you do not include their participation in the National Lottery, the gamblers that are most active in the UK seem to be in the 25 to 34 year old age group, of which 69 percent also took part in some other type of gambling.

As for ethnic backgrounds, it appears that white adults gamble more frequently than other groups, with participation levels at 65 percent as opposed to 40 percent for the black population. That figure then stood at 36 percent for the Asian population, and at 49 percent for those in any other ethnic group. Interestingly, there were not any significant differences when it came to the types of online gambling activities different ethnic groups would choose, such as online betting, football pools, slots and casino table games. In the live arena, however, white respondents were more likely to play the lottery and bingo, or place bets at horse-racing.


According to the UKGC report, people in London gambled the least over the period surveyed at only 52 percent of participants throughout the year, as opposed to the next lowest region at 61 percent in Wales. Meanwhile, Scotland had the highest number of participants at 68 percent, while in the East Midlands the figure was 66 percent, the North East at 65 percent, and the North West at 65 percent.

Popular Games

The most popular gambling game for both men and women was the National Lottery, with 50 percent of men and 43 percent of women entering lottery draws throughout the year. Other lottery products, such as scratch cards, also attracted interest from 23 percent of men and 15 percent of women. Overall, the gambling activities which most appealed to men are as follows: horse races (14%), online betting (12%), slots (10%), and sports betting (10%); while for women their preferred order of gambling games was as follows: horse races (9%), bingo (8%), and slots (5%).

Problem Gambling Concerns

While the statistics show a thriving UK gambling industry, the biggest concern coming from the report was that 2 million people were either problem gamblers, or at risk of becoming so. This represents a 30% increase over the last three years. Showing the biggest concerns in this regard was the’ other ethnic group’ category at 3.3%, while the 25-34 year old group had a gambling risk rate of 1.4%. Conversely, the group least at risk was the 65 and over age group (0.8%), and the white/black ethnicity (0.7% and 1%).

Furthermore, the gambling games which had a higher incident of gambling concerns was spread betting (20.1%), and betting exchanges (15.9%), while there was the least areas of concern for the National Lottery (1.3%), or scratchcards, and live bingo (3%).

Looking Ahead

Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) continue to be one of the biggest concern for the country, with the Labour Party, which liberalized the UK’s gambling industry in 2005, vowing to tackle the problem if elected to power. According to the Gambling Commission report, 11.5% of people using FOBTs in bookmakers are considered problem gamblers, with that number having risen from 7.2% in 2012. Commenting upon the statistics, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling released a statement explaining:

“The increased rate of problematic gambling associated with FOBTs should alarm policymakers. The bookies have claimed that because the overall population rate of problem gambling is static, FOBTs are not harmful. The data published today, which shows a rate increase, has totally undermined the bookies’ argument.”

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