Commission calls for more action on problem gambling
The Gambling Commission has said that more needs to be done to tackle problem gambling after publishing the first comprehensive research on the subject in Britain since 2010.
While problem gambling rates remained stable, the industry regulator said the figures still represented a "significant challenge".
The report said problem gambling was more prevalent among those who had participated in a number of gambling activities in the previous year than those who had just participated in one, which the Association of British Bookmakers claimed showed that concentration on gaming machines was misplaced.
Research institute NatCen produced the report, titled Gambling Behaviour in Great Britain in 2015, collating data from three separate reports covering England, Scotland and Wales.
It found that 1.4 per cent of gamblers were classed as problem gamblers (0.8 per cent of the population), with 6.4 per cent classed as at risk (3.9 per cent of the population), a similar rate to that published in the 2012 health survey which covered England and Scotland.
That would make more than two million people in Britain a problem or at-risk gambler.
The highest rates of problem gambling were among those who had participated in spread betting (20.1 per cent), betting through a betting exchange (16.2 per cent), playing poker in pubs or clubs (15.9 per cent), betting offline on events other than sports or horse or greyhound racing (15.5 per cent) and playing gaming machines in bookmakers (11.5 per cent).
The report comes as the gambling industry waits for the results of the government's review of gaming machines and social responsibility measures.
Gambling Commission executive director Tim Miller said: "For many gambling is an enjoyable leisure activity. But for some people gambling can become a problem with serious consequences for them, their families and their communities.
"Whilst overall problem gambling rates in Britain have remained statistically stable, our research suggests that in excess of two million people are at risk or classed as problem gamblers, with very many more impacted by the wider consequences of gambling related harm.
"We have a clear commitment to make gambling fairer and safer and these figures show that this is a significant challenge. Success will depend upon us, the industry, government and others, all working together with a shared purpose to protect consumers. The pace of change to date simply hasn’t been fast enough – more needs to be done to address problem gambling."
The ABB said there was a responsibility for the gambling industry as a whole to tackle problem gambling.
They added: "Seeking to ban a single gambling product will simply lead to the shifting of problem gamblers to other areas rather than addressing the root cause of the issue.
"The ABB believes that it is a challenge for the whole gambling industry to move from a position where there is a stable level of problem gambling to one where problem gambling rates are decreasing.
"Betting shops are working to ensure responsible gambling and have developed and implemented a range of responsible gambling measures that are not currently present in other gambling venues, but more still needs to be done to share best practice across the industry."
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