Gambling survey due Wednesday


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

Mainstream media expect UK government to come under pressure on supercasino

Many of Britain's mainstream newspapers carried news over the weekend of the imminent release of the UK Gambling Commission's "Gambling Prevalence" study. Leaked excerpts from the report, due for release Wednesday, and speculation on its full content has already been the subject of extensive reportage in mainstream media.

The Telegraph opined that as a result of the problem gambling statistics believed to be in the report prime minister Gordon Brown is likely to come under pressure to rule out any chance of a land super-casino being built.

The newspaper goes on to claim that the Gambling Prevalence Study is likely to show that "almost a million gamblers have a severe addiction." This compares with the last study, commissioned by the Gaming Board in 1999, which found that about 300 000 gamblers had a "problem". The difference between "severe addiction" and "problem" is not detailed.

The Telegraph speculates that the report will disclose that 33 million adults, or 72 percent of the UK population, gambled in some form. Presumably this figure, if accurate, reflects all forms of gambling such as lotteries, football pools, horse-racing and the like.

UK ministers have already commissioned another prevalence study in three years, as concern about problem gambling grows, the article reveals without giving a source.

Since that first study in 1999, there has been no material increase in the number of casinos, and a small decline in the numbers of bingo halls, the article continues. Yet the opportunities to gamble have increased tenfold, particularly with the introduction of online betting, and a sharp rise in the number of touch-screen roulette games, in which punters can bet up to GBP 300 a minute.

Prime minister Brown let it be known that he disproves of gambling when he levied a surprise GBP 100 million tax on casinos in his last Budget as Chancellor in March this year.

Soon afterwards, plans for 17 casinos were thrown out by Parliament, and Brown then ordered a review of plans for a super casino in Manchester.

With differing "leaked" statistics in various newspapers, it is clear there is still some confusion over the exact content or interpretation of the study.

The Independent reported that: "Gambling addiction in the UK has more than doubled in recent years with up to 600 000 people hooked, new figures are expected to reveal."

The newspaper goes on to inform that details of the report are being kept secret until its official release on Wednesday, but it is expected to document a marked increase in the number of people gambling both online and in casinos.

The dramatic rise over the past eight years ties in with the increasing popularity of online betting and touch screen roulette games.

The Independent piece speculates that the study will say a million people in the UK are now gambling online, spending an average of GBP 1 000 a year each.


Findings confound media speculation that study would show significant increases in problem gambling

It would appear that despite considerable growth in the UK gambling market, the mainstream media pundits on the pastime got it wrong in speculating that today's report on the Prevalence of Gambling in the UK would show dramatic increases in problem gambling.

Advance copies of the report reaching the media today (Wednesday) show that the number of problem gamblers in the UK has not altered since the corresponding survey back in 1999, reports Gaming Industry News. According to the study, commissioned by the UK Gambling Commission, 0.6 percent of the adult population has a gambling problem.

The finding confounds recent press speculation which suggested that the number of problem gamblers is close to the one million mark. Over the past few weeks mainstream media has been rife with supposedly reliable leaked statistics purporting to show that problem gambling, in line with the growth of the sector, had increased.

Peter Dean, the out-going Commission chairman, reflected on what many will view as an unexpected result. He said: The key message is that overall there has been surprisingly little change either in the number of gambling participants or to the number of problem gamblers since 1999.

"We remain concerned that there are still over a quarter of a million adults who are problem gamblers.

The challenge, for us and for the industry, is to tackle this through the new licensing regime that has been put in place from September 1. British-based gambling operators must now comply with strict and detailed social responsibility obligations, and we will monitor how these requirements are met.

The next prevalence survey will be published in 2009. For a full copy of the 2007 study go to

Among the first to respond to the findings was gambling charity GamCare. A spokesman said: We are delighted to see that the combined efforts of GamCare and the gaming industry, with its heightened commitment to the practices of social responsibility, has led to no increase in the number of problem gamblers in the UK.

"Operators have made, and have indicated that they will continue to make, concerted efforts to raise the awareness of the services provided by GamCare for those individuals who get into difficulty from gambling, including the decision to carry the GamCare HelpLine number in their advertising.

Notes to editors

Two internationally recognised tools were used to measure problem gambling. The DSM IV used in the 1999 survey provides comparative results, while the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), a new and more sophisticated measure developed in Canada, replaces the South Oaks Gambling Screen. DSM IV stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders, 4th edition.

Comparisons to other jurisdictions show Britain has a higher gambling problem rate than Norway (0.2%), similar rate to Canada (0.5%), New Zealand (0.5%), Sweden (0.6%), Switzerland (0.8%), lower than Iceland (1.1%), South Africa (1.4%), USA (3.5%), Singapore (4.1%), Hong Kong (5.3%). (Comparisons should be treated with caution, as different methodologies have been used in different countries).

Problem gambling, measured as a percentage of adults shows that, with DSM IV, 0.6% of adults are problem gamblers the same as 1999. The prevalence of problem gambling among past year gamblers was 0.9% for the DSM IV (compared to 0.8% in 1999 this change is not statistically significant). With the PGSI measure, 0.5% of adults are problem gamblers and 0.8% of past-year gamblers have a problem. These figures include the National Lottery.

The new regime places social responsibility requirements on British-based gambling operators and the Commission will monitor how the industry meets these requirements. Operators will also be required to contribute to education and research about problem gambling, as well as to its treatment. Other requirements include:

* putting in place policies and procedures to discharge their social responsibility obligations;

* training staff to recognise and deal with problem gambling;
prominently displaying where help can be found by those who need it;
enabling players on the internet to keep control by setting limits on their stakes; and

* providing for self-exclusion from gambling premises for players who seek it.

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is a new gambling advice website set up by the Responsibility in Gambling Trust (RIGT). The site is featured on all gambling advertisements from companies regulated by the Commission as part of the industry led advertising code of practice.

The Gambling Commission regulates gambling in the public interest. It does so by keeping crime out of gambling, by ensuring that gambling is conducted fairly and openly, and by protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling. The Commission also provides independent advice to government on gambling in Britain.


But the overall number of problem gamblers is not rising

The encouraging news that the incidence of problem gambling has not grown over the past 8 years aside, a closer look at the Gambling Prevalence report released by the UK Gambling Commission today shows that video betting machines in bookie shops (FOBTs) and spread betting are the main areas of concern regarding problem gambling.

The study showed that 0.6 percent of the + 9 000 respondents were problem gamblers, equating to around 250 000 people in Britain and little changed from the last broad study in 1999, reports Reuters news agency. The study was designed to be representative of Britain's adult population of 32 million.

Spread betting was cited as the biggest reason for problem gambling, at 14.7 percent. Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), the touch screen roulette and bingo video machines in bookmakers' shops, were a problem for 11.2 percent of those that used them.

The study, carried out by UK research specialist NatCen, looked at all forms of gambling ranging from betting in casinos and on the Internet to playing bingo and the National Lottery.

It is the first wide scale study into gambling in Britain since 1999, and the government has said it will use the results as evidence for policy and legislation to cut gambling addiction and as a benchmark for future studies.

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