Gambling report throws up surprises

The Gambling Commission has released a report today, the first in eight years of its kind, which has shown that the number of people gambling has not increased since 1999.

Over the weekend and in the day’s leading up to the report, national newspapers in the UK were awash with headlines the citing the rise in the popularity of gambling as the cause for a doubling in the number of gambling addicts.

However, as it turns out, the Gambling Prevalence Study which surveyed 9,003 people between September 2006 and March 2007, revealed that the number of people gambling fell from 72% in 1999 to 68%.

Chairman of the Gambling Commission, Peter Dean, said that most adults who gambled in the UK did so responsibly and harmlessly, although there were 250,000 problem gamblers, which represents around 0.6% of the adult population. This is roughly the same amount as identified in the study eight years ago.

"It was something of a surprise, and a relief too," Mr Dean told the BBC.

Much of the results can be attributed to a fall in National Lottery sales, although 57% of people still play the National Lottery.

Despite certain newspapers singling out (through mere speculation) online gambling websites as a reason for a predicted rise in problem gambling, the overall figures for online gambling also remain roughly the same, with 6% of people gambling online.

"There have been more forms of gambling available in the intervening years - fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT) in betting shops, online gambling and so forth and the overall figures for online gambling are not up,” Mr Dean continued.

"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.”

Nevertheless, the Commission remains vigilant and will seek to reduce the number of problem gamblers, or perhaps more pressingly, make sure those numbers do not increase with the introduction of new gambling legislation this month.

The Gambling Act 2005 provides casinos and online gaming sites with more opportunities to advertise, and as Mark Griffiths, professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University, puts it, may “stimulate people to gamble”.

The level of problem gambling in the UK is similar to that of Canada, New Zealand and Sweden but lower than in the United States, Australia and South Africa.

Read the full study here.

Editor, - 2007-09-19 16:50:14

Online Casino Gambling at