The Gambling Commission provided funding for the research, which was conducted by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. The report indicates that the prevalence of problem gambling may be higher than the estimates previously projected by the Gambling Commission.
The latest research, funded by the Gambling Commission and conducted by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, has revealed that problem gambling affects approximately 0.7% of the UK population. This is higher than the previous estimate of 0.3% reported in the Gambling Commission’s last two quarterly surveys.
The study, titled “Fiscal Costs and Benefits of Problem Gambling: Towards Better Estimates,” further highlighted that the fiscal cost associated with problem gambling amounts to approximately £1.40 billion per year. This cost encompasses various factors, including welfare support, healthcare, criminal justice expenses, and homelessness.
On an individual level, the average fiscal cost per person experiencing problem gambling was calculated to be around £3,700 per year. However, the study suggests that these figures may be an underestimate, indicating that the actual cost of problem gambling could be higher than currently estimated.
The study noted that the lack of publicly available data has made it difficult to incorporate the costs incurred by “affected others,” which include the financial impacts on family members due to gambling-related debt and family breakdown, as well as the costs associated with suicides related to problem gambling. This suggests that the estimated fiscal costs of problem gambling may not fully capture the comprehensive impact of this issue on individuals and society due to limitations in available data.
More data needed on the problem gambling
The researchers put forward several proposals for reforms in light of their findings. They recommended that fiscal costs associated with problem gambling should be acknowledged and incorporated into regulatory changes during the upcoming review of the 2005 Gambling Act, with a white paper expected to be published soon.
Additionally, the researchers suggested that clear screening diagnostics for problem gambling should be included in the Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS), and that the Gambling Commission should have a mandate for large-scale data collection on topics such as the relationship between problem gambling and its impacts on affected individuals and suicide.
Furthermore, the study highlighted the need for more in-depth studies to better understand the societal impacts of problem gambling.
The research was conducted by the NIESR research team, consisting of Arnab Bhattacharjee, Peter Dolton, Max Mosley, and Adrian Pabst, and utilized data sets from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS), and the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS).
In a separate development, the Gambling Commission recently reported on the second stage of an experimental trial for its gambling prevalence survey, led by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen). The second stage involved further tests to refine the survey’s methodology and content, including experiments to test household selection, presentation of harms statements, and the optimal approach for inviting adults per household to participate.