SBC News UKGC explains experimental findings of new UK gambling survey 

UKGC explains experimental findings of new UK gambling survey 

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced the completion of a key corporate project, the publication of the “Gambling Survey for Great Britain Experimental” data release.

Head of Statistics Helen Bryce documents that three years ago, the UKGC initiated a project to enhance data collection on adult gambling participation and problem gambling prevalence in Great Britain.

The project, adopting a new ‘push-to-web’ survey methodology for public research, commenced with a public consultation and required substantial resources. This included collaborations with experts, industry stakeholders, individuals with lived experiences, academics, and policymakers.

Stakeholder contributions were recognized in the development of the new survey, which incorporated feedback from over 130 respondents through consultations, engagement panels, and specific workshops.

Bryce detailed: “The consultation served as the foundation for the Gambling Survey for Great Britain. Over the past three years, we have devoted substantial resources – money, people, and time – and collaborated with field experts to create the best consumer gambling survey possible.

“We have reached a significant milestone today by publishing the findings from the project’s final experimental stage.”

UK stakeholders have been informed that the project’s findings are classified as ‘experimental,’ or as the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) now terms them, ‘official statistics in development.’

NatCen has completed Step 3, the final phase of the experimental stage, applying insights from Steps 1 and 2 to refine the survey design and questionnaire content.

During Step 3, data were gathered from approximately 4,000 respondents between April and May 2023. Researchers are advised that the Step-3 findings are ‘experimental statistics’ and are still undergoing testing.

The UKGC’s report highlights key experimental findings, noting that half of the respondents (50%) gambled in some form in the past four weeks, with 61% engaging in gambling activities over the last 12 months.

A gender breakdown of gambling participation in the past four weeks revealed that 52.6% were male and 47.3% female.

Gambling participation varied by age, with individuals aged 45 to 54 showing the highest rate at 61.6%, while those 75 and over had the lowest at 39.6%. There was a trend of gambling participation peaking in middle age and declining among older age groups.

Regarding public engagement, the National Lottery remains the most popular gambling activity in the UK, with 31.8% of survey participants over a four-week period. Online purchases for the National Lottery were significant at 25%, compared to 17.9% for in-person purchases.

Online sports betting was participated in by 11.6% of respondents, while in-person (retail) betting was less at 5.1%. Online casino games attracted 2.4% participation, with traditional land-based casino play at 1.5% and playing casino games on a machine in a venue at 1.4%.

In the survey, participants indicated that monetary gain and enjoyment were major motivations for gambling, describing it as a fun and exciting pastime. Satisfaction levels with gambling experiences were positive, with 44% of gamblers rating their last experience with a score of six or above, and 37% expressing neutral feelings with a midpoint score of five.

The Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) indicated that 2.5% of respondents scored eight or above, pointing to varying levels of gambling-related issues.

The new data collection approach does have limitations, such as dependence on participant understanding in the absence of interviewers and lower response rates compared to face-to-face methods. Moreover, the experimental phase utilized a smaller sample size than what is anticipated for the official statistics phase, and there is concern that “the survey may appeal more to gamblers than non-gamblers”.

The UKGC has commissioned Professor Patrick Sturgis of the London School of Economics to conduct an independent review of the new survey methodology.

Researchers are cautioned against comparing this methodology with previous data as the results are not compatible with earlier data collection methods such as telephone surveys or NHS Health Surveys.

In her concluding remarks, Bryce stated: “We need to establish a new baseline to track future changes in gambling behavior in Great Britain. Adapting our methods is challenging but crucial to ensure our statistics remain relevant and robust. With the extensive development and testing of our new methodology and the projected annual response of around 20,000 participants, we are committed to ensuring that our approach is as pertinent and sound as possible.

“We will publish his findings and recommendations early next year, before the methodology becomes our official statistics in 2024.”

Check Also

Paul Scully joins DCMS BGC

DCMS confirms September application of £2/£5 stake limits on online slots

The UK government has confirmed that staking limits will be applied to online slot games …

Sarah Garnder: UKGC consultation conclusions due this summer

UKGC to proceed with pilot test on customer affordability checks

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced that it will proceed with the next steps …

Bacta to make land-based gaming case to Parliament

Heat dials-up on the conclusion of UK gambling’s staking limits and financial risk checks

As the end of February approaches, speculation mounts on how the UK government will proceed …