Gambling-related issues remain a hot topic in the UK, with the ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act focusing on improving the protection of vulnerable individuals. Last week, Public Health England (PHE) published the results of its review of the gambling-related harms. PHE’s paper on this issue revealed that factors like poor physical and mental health, life outlook, consumption of alcohol, social mobility, employment, and social-related anxieties contributed to gambling-related risks.
In the meantime, last week, GamStop announced that there was a 25% year-over-year increase in self-exclusions for the first half of 2021. This indicates that more people were inclined to make use of this responsible gambling tool to avoid further gambling-related harm.
PHE Provides Excess Cost of Different Problem Gambling Issues
The report issued by PHE was based on 2018 statistics, showing that 24.5 million people in England have participated in a form of gambling. These estimates equal 54% of the adults living in the country, or 40% if we exclude the National Lottery. According to the results in the report, about 0.5% of players can be considered as vulnerable individuals suffering from problem gambling.
The results from the report showed that players who fall under the category of problem gamblers participate in at least seven different forms of gambling. Online gambling participation is double for high-risk individuals (23.4%) compared to the general public (9.4%). PHE also noted that in 2019, there was a decline in gambling participation among children and young individuals. While in 2011 the rate was 23%, in 2019 it has declined to 11%.
In its report, PHE noted that gambling-related harms cost the country £1.27 billion. About half of that cost (£647 million) comes from tools used to keep a track of the public’s physical and mental health. Based on the results from the review, PHE noted that the gambling-related suicides have the biggest social impact, with 409 suicides per year having an estimated cost of £620 million. Meanwhile, the cost of depression and gambling-related problems amounted to £335 million, with more than 250,000 patients having mental health issues related to gambling.
PHE noted that alcohol, drug and gambling dependence also cost the government £6 million per single year. Based on the reports of 3,799 inmates that committed gambling-related crimes, this is yet another factor with an annual cost of £163 million. PHE explained that due to lack of enough evidence, the reported numbers may be underestimating the real economic and social impact of gambling-related harms. That said, its economic analysis provides a more recent view of excess costs caused by problem gambling factors.
GamStop Reports More Individuals Made Use of Self-Exclusion Programme
Last week, during the first of its two annual reviews, GamStop reported that for the last six months until the end of June, more than 40,000 people have signed up for the organisation’s scheme. This made the total number of people who have made use of the self-exclusion tool 218,000.
The estimates show that 70% of those who registered were males, while 30% were females. Meanwhile, new participants in the GamStop programme were between the ages of 18 and 34. Out of all individuals who signed up for the programme, 58% chose the longest self-exclusion period of five years. During the review, GamStop also reported that March was the month that marked a record-high number of registrations.
GamStop decided to entrust the research agency Sonnet with the task of conducting the first independent evaluation of the organisation’s platform. According to the survey carried out by Sonnet, based on 3,300 registered individuals, the self-exclusion platform is used by people of different ages, socio-economic and ethnic groups.
The results of the survey show that 89% of the registered users were white, 3% Asian, 2% Black, and 1% Mixed, which according to Sonnet corresponds to the general UK population. As for the socio-economic status of those who registered, Sonnet reports that the results vary. About 29% of registered users were residing in households with a pre-tax income of over £48,000 per year. Meanwhile, 48% of those who signed up for the programme are living in households with a pre-tax income of over £32,000 per year.
The survey also showed that 75% of the registered users are either in full or part-time employment. Some 63% of the individuals who signed up with GamStop have no children in their households.