The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has long promoted the virtues of safety, accountability, and responsibility. From licensed online casinos, sportsbooks, and bingo and poker sites to advertisers, marketing experts and consumers, the message has always been clear: gamble responsibly.
In tandem with organisations such as BeGambleAware, the UKGC has run a number of campaigns, including Bet Regret and When the Fun Stops, Stop. Those campaigns have certainly raised awareness. However, with the British government undertaking a major review of the gambling industry and legislative change on the horizon, all parties concerned need to do more than raise awareness.
Fortunately, in today’s world, data is abundant, and that matters because statistics, trends and facts can shape the future of responsible gambling. With this in mind, Mr Gamble has carried out its own review of the industry. Working in tandem with ICS-digital and Perspectus Global, Mr Gamble has painted a current picture of gambling in the UK.
Perspectus Global surveyed 1,000 UK gamblers aged 18 and over. Through a combination of qualitative and quantitative questions, the survey provides an insight into the modern gambler. From this, data can be extrapolated and used to identify areas for improvement regarding the future of responsible gambling.
This survey is based on facts. So, to start, Perspectus Global built a foundation by asking gamblers how they gamble, when they do it, and the amounts they spend.
The average British gambler spends £70 per week, but there are some significant regional differences. For example, London has the highest rate of spending at an average of £99.30 per week. In contrast, gamblers in the East Midlands spend, on average, £55.40 per week. Of those surveyed, men tend to gamble £20.30 more than women per week on average, while those under 50 spend more than those over 50.
From the responses collected, 54% of people said they gambled twice a week, 21% gambled every two weeks, while the remaining 25% gambled at least once per day. When it comes to the gambling budget, 80% of responders spend up to £100 on gambling per week, with between £150 and £200 a week being considered a maximum spending limit.
When looking at these figures, however, it's important to take into account location and age. Those under 50 are more likely to have a higher spending tolerance, as are those in London, compared with regions such as the Midlands and South West.
Online gambling and sports betting were shown to be more frequent than bingo, retail gambling and lotteries across all genders, age ranges, and regions. This data tallies with the annual revenue reports from the UKGC. As per the most recent data, online gambling generated £6.9 billion in revenue between April 2020 and March 2021. That figure accounts for more than 38% of all gambling revenue in the UK.
In every category, except the over 60s, more than 70% of respondents said they have gambling apps on their phone and, from the data collected, mobile gambling apps were most popular among 18-30 year olds (91%). However, bucking the trend of gambling being a male-dominated activity by a razor-thin margin is the statistic that 85% of women had apps on their phone compared to 84% of men.
Identifying potential problems without any personal experience can be very difficult. Therefore, to get a true picture of gambling in the UK and the potential areas for change, we have to take into account people’s experiences within this practice.
The data shows that, within the 18 to 50 age range, almost one in two people know someone with a gambling problem. 59% of gamblers aged 18 to 30 know someone with a problem and, of all the regions covered, London and the East of England have the highest rates.
Overall, the majority of those surveyed said that they did not have a gambling problem, past or present. The remaining minority admitted to having a gambling problem in the past, while the majority of those surveyed believe that they could spot a gambling problem among their peers. Drawing a line between those with a problem and those that don’t, as well as those who can identify a problem and those that can’t, can be difficult.
85% of respondents have gambling apps on their phones, with 15% still gambling offline.
Almost one in two (49%) know someone who has experienced problems with gambling.
Over a quarter (27%) of the respondents polled admitted they’ve had a gambling problem.
Overall, UK gamblers appear to have a high degree of control with regards to stopping when they lose. Although specific thresholds do vary, 70% of people in all categories said they stop gambling after a loss.
Understanding people’s awareness of problem gambling and the resources available to those in trouble is crucial. The remaining data obtained represents the final pieces of this complex puzzle.
What could be deduced here is that older gamblers either don’t need or feel like they need to use responsible gambling tools. It could also be the case that the older generation, who tend to gamble less online, aren’t aware of the resources available to them.
Data from BeGambleAware shows that 80% of the marketing money spent on gambling is done online. Additional data from the Office of National Statistics shows that 99% of Brits aged 18 to 44 use the internet. This figure drops to 94% in the over 55s, 86% in the over 65s, and, finally, 59% in the over-75s category.
Buoyant markets often require tighter regulations. However, if you only spend money in a local high street betting shop, you might not believe gambling and/or problem gambling is as much of a potential issue.
It's important to discuss what respondents consider “help and support”. Speaking to a friend might be considered getting support, but it’s not as effective as using self-exclusion tools or joining an organisation such as Gamblers Anonymous.
As it is with losses, there’s a certain amount of uniformity with regard to take-profit rates. In general, 58% of gamblers tend to stop after a win. The overall implication here when combined with the other data captured is that people are fairly balanced when it comes to stop-loss and take-profit strategies.
22% of respondents have used responsible gambling tools or resources, with 32% of those being aged 18 to 30, while just 2% were over 60.
A quarter of respondents (26%) admit they wouldn’t know where to look if they needed help or support for excessive gambling.
Meanwhile, 68% of respondents believe gambling regulations should be tougher. The only group that strays significantly from the average is the over 60s (39%). Again, this could be due to a distinction between online and retail gambling.
The data collected and collated by Perspectus Global paints an interesting picture. Although there’s a general awareness of gambling, when it comes to its potential pitfalls and the push for responsible behaviour, there are generational differences.
Online gambling has become the dominant sector. This puts us directly in the crosshairs of the younger generation. As such, operators, marketing companies and responsible gambling organisations are focusing the majority of their efforts on the internet, with new online casinos are being launched at a weekly rate
This strategy makes sense, but there is a danger of leaving the older generation out in the cold. The future of responsible gambling will be shaped by the internet, but the internet shouldn’t define responsible gambling. A holistic approach that caters to all generations across multiple mediums is crucial.
That’s one conclusion we can draw from the data, but there are many more. This is why a data-driven approach to responsible gambling is important and why facts will shape the industry over the next decade.