While problem gambling is a serious issue that needs to be addressed by preventive measures, the latest figures show that the issue doesn’t appear to be getting worse. Figures released by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) show that gambling addiction rates have stayed constant, despite a lot of media saying otherwise.
Findings of this report
Gambling addiction is a serious issue that has caused a lot of hurt and heartache to countless families, friends, and acquaintances of those who struggle with it.
It can be financially ruinous, as well as having a detrimental impact on the person’s mental and physical health. Relationships are often torn apart, and the addict’s life spirals out of control.
Online gambling has made it easier than ever to gamble. Mobile betting allows someone to place a bet from anywhere. Of course, that has led to an increase in addiction levels over the last two decades or so.
The UKGC has released a report, “Gambling Behaviour in Great Britain 2016,” that looks at health report data to identify changes and trends in the frequency of problem gambling, etc.
Similar studies were done in 2015 and 2012, and the results are very similar in the latest report. It shows that about 1.2% of gamblers have a problem, which equates to roughly 0.7% of the region’s population. The United Kingdom has more options for placing wagers than anywhere else in the world.
A key area of focus to help prevent gambling addiction is on younger people, who are more disposed to falling victim. The latest survey shows that gambling participation among those 16 years old or greater decreased to 57%, compared to 63% and 65% in 2015 and 2012, respectively.
The prevalence of problem gambling with online sportsbooks was halved to 2.5% in the latest survey.
Problems increased in some areas, including the controversial fixed odds betting terminals, which increased 2.1% to 13.7% in 2016. The government has already planned to drastically cut the amount that can be wagered through these machines to put a halt to this issue.
Spread betting saw a massive drop from 20.1% to 8%, mainly because of new restrictions coming into the sector in 2016, as well as an increased focus by the regulators on spread betting operators.
Recent public attention
There have been some high-profile criticisms recently of the way certain groups deal with problem gambling.
The National Health Service (NHS) chief Simon Stevens publically called out gambling operators for not contributing anywhere nearly enough to the Gamble Aware charity that helps those afflicted with gambling addiction, so taxpayers had to make up the difference.
In particular, he targeted companies that sponsor Premier League football clubs. He accused them of not meeting their responsibility when it comes to protecting problem gamblers.
He said that eight of the nine operators sponsoring teams did not make the mandatory donations.
Under Gambling Commission rules, bookmakers have to donate at least £10m ($12.9m) annually. The sector currently sees revenues of more than £1.4bn ($1.8bn) a year.
The operators that are shirt sponsors for clubs in the Premier League are M88, LaBa360, ManBetX, Sport Pesa, DafaBet, Ope Sports, Fun88, Betway, and W88.
Perhaps it can be said that the extensive efforts that have gone into helping to prevent gambling addiction in recent years are working and that, if these measures had not been implemented, rates would have risen higher rather than staying the same.
With a group of MPs pushing for a ban on advertising by gambling operators, as well as serious curtailments to be implemented on fixed odds betting terminals in the near future, there is certainly being a lot of progress made on this front.