Data published by GamCare has shown a disparity between experience of problem gambling related to sports betting and online slots.
GamCare detailed that the number of people reporting problems with online sports betting to its National Gambling Helpline fell from 34% in 2018-19, to 20% in 2022-23.
The figures suggest that the sports betting side of the industry may be more advanced on know your customer (KYC), player protection and responsible gambling initiatives.
On the other hand, the number of people citing problems with betting exchanges increased from 0.3% to 7.6% over the past five years, according to GamCare’s latest data.
The biggest challenges encountered related to online slots, with 60% reporting problems with such products, a major increase from 34% in 2018-2019. On a broader, multi-product scale, 73% of the 5,660 callers to the helpline reported problems with gambling.
Colin Walsh, GamCare’s lived experience manager, said: “There is still a perception that gambling harm predominantly comes from betting on horses or sports events.
“In the past five years, we have broadly seen a trend where people often start gambling on these activities but eventually transition into other areas of online gambling, where it can be easy to lose sight of how much time and money is being spent.
“The data highlights that it is now disproportionately online slots that are the main challenge for many people who call the National Gambling Helpline.”
Publication of GamCare’s data comes in the midst of a series of consultations involving the DCMS, UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and various betting and gambling reform stakeholders.
Consultations are currently focusing on finance risk checks – the government’s answer to affordability checks – but also player protection and game development, such as how safer gambling can be incorporated into slot design.
GamCare’s data shows that betting operators may be leading the pack when it comes to responsible gaming and player protection, and that slot providers could learn from their wagering counterparts – although problem gambling is still affecting the industry across the board.
Walsh concluded: “I know from my own experience – and the experiences of those in my network – how difficult this form of gambling can be, and how isolating it can feel if you find yourself caught in a negative cycle.
“But I also know that it is possible to get through it and that there is free help for anyone struggling with it.”