The results of the third Prevalence of Gambling study, conducted by the UK Gambling Commission, resulted in perhaps undesired media focus; namely, the mainly highlighted points of the study are the negative ones, including problem players. This is due to the fact that in the past three years the number of potential problem gamblers rose, it was reported.
The numbers also earned the attention of trade association Business in Sport and Leisure (BISL) which rather promptly issued its own analysis, putting a particular stress on the following points:
“* Participation in gambling has increased in the UK to 35.5 million people – in the last (2007) survey 68 percent of the population had enjoyed a flutter - overwhelmingly on lotteries - whilst this time around this number has increased to 73 percent. If the lottery gamblers are removed, the number is 58 percent (2007: 48 percent).”
“* Fewer than 1 in 100 (less than 1 percent) of the adult population has a potential or real problem with their gambling. The survey arrived at growth problem gambling figures over the three year period of between .9 or .7 of a percentage point at the high end, and .7 and .5 of a percentage point at the low, describing the growth as "not statistically significant". In the 2007 survey the number was .6 of a percentage point.”
“* That 78 percent of people who gamble do so because it is fun, and that gambling is an increasingly mainstream leisure activity in the UK.”
What the BISL analysis points out is that more attention should be dedicated to what constitutes problem gambling, as this would lead to more precise refinement of the numbers, as well as more effective addressing of the problem. Still, they warned that any rise can be a justified cause for concern.
In addition, the BISL CEO Dominic Harrison in this respect said, “The survey shows that gambling remains a fun activity for the vast majority of adults in the UK. However any level of problem gambling is a challenge which needs to be tackled. BISL is committed to continuing its work with its member companies, Government, the Gambling Commission, GamCare, GREaT, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board and the academic community to help address and deal with problem gambling.
"The gambling industry makes significant and concerted efforts to tackle problem gambling each year ranging from voluntary donations of some GBP5 million to fund research, education and treatment to operating rigorous codes of conduct in line with the highest standards of social responsibility. The structures that now exist with the GREaT Foundation and the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board enable resources to be focused directly onto those people that need it most."
On the other side, the Gambling Commission Chairman Brian Pomeroy, specified: "The survey confirms that there are a significant and growing number of people who take part in gambling."
"However, it also indicates that a small, but probably growing, proportion of the population have serious problems with their gambling. This reinforces our determination to see that gambling regulation continues to both minimise the risk to those individuals and ensure that the majority of people can continue to gamble safely," he added.
According to the commission, there is not much difference between the number of problem gamblers in the UK and other countries in Europe, but it was pointed out that it’s still lower than in the U.S., South Africa and Australia.
It was proved by the independent survey that 39 percent of gamblers play in casinos, 27 prefer sports betting, while only 14 percent play online. It was also added that a 5-percent growth has been noted in the number of online gamblers during those three years, whereas the rise was much bigger in case of scratch cards (24 percent), horse racing (16 percent), other lotteries (25 percent), and ‘other events’ (nine percent), whereas only football pools noted a decline.
The National Lottery remains the most popular gambling form in the country, with 59 percent of the population buying tickets for it.