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Further analysis of the Health Survey for England 2012 and Scottish Health Survey 2012

10 July 2014

Following publication of the report on gambling behaviour in England and Scotland in 2012 (April 2014), further in-depth analysis (opens in new tab) has taken place of gambling behaviour and problem gambling levels, in particular looking at groups within populations and associations with problem and at-risk gambling.

Previous analysis identified that between 0.4% to 0.5% of adults were classed as problem gamblers. As has been seen in previous surveys problem gamblers tend to gamble on a wide spectrum of activities. This means conclusions about how far individual activities cause harm cannot be drawn from this data. The report does however provide insight into which activities have the highest concentration of problem and at-risk gamblers and therefore where any harm minimisation measures may be most effectively targeted.

In addition we know that a further 1% of adults (about half a million) were categorised as ‘moderate-risk’ gamblers. This means that in total around 700,000 adults in England and Scotland are either moderate risk or problem gamblers.

The report also enables us to explore how problem and at-risk gambling correlate with other health and lifestyle factors. It identifies interesting linkages between at-risk and problem gambling and these factors. The Commission welcomes further exploration of these linkages in the future.

Rebekah Eden, the Commission’s programme director for evidence and analysis said “While overall problem gambling rates in Britain appear to be relatively stable this report provides more insight into where concentrations of at-risk and problem gamblers are likely to be found both in terms of gambling activities participated in and demographic, health and lifestyle characteristics.”

Findings from the Health Survey for England 2012 and Scottish Health Survey 2012 (opens in new tab)

Note to editors

  1. The Gambling Commission (the Commission) regulates gambling in the public interest alongside its co-regulators local licensing authorities. It does so by keeping crime out of gambling, by ensuring that gambling is conducted fairly and openly, and by protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling. Subject to these overriding public protection objectives, as regulator of the National Lottery the Commission monitors and challenges Camelot to raise the maximum amount for good causes. The Commission also provides independent advice to government on gambling in Britain.
  2. The Commission and local licensing authorities are responsible for licensing and regulating all gambling in Great Britain other than spread betting, which is the responsibility of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) (opens in new tab).
  3. See the Terms & Conditions section of our website for information on legal advice (opens in new tab).
  4. The report was commissioned by the Gambling Commission from NatCen, a not-for-profit independent social research organisation, dedicated to promoting a better informed society through high quality social research ( (opens in new tab).
  5. The Health Survey for England (HSE) covered 8,000 adults (aged 16 and over) and was commissioned by the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre.
  6. The Scottish Health Survey covered 4,000 adults (aged 16 and over) and was commissioned by the Scottish Government.
  7. Comparisons should be made with caution as, while the methods and questions used in each survey were the same, the survey vehicle was not.
  8. Both surveys used the same gambling questions and two internationally recognised tools to measure problem gambling – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association IV (DSM-IV) and the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). Both of these screening tools were used in the British Gambling Prevalence Surveys (BGPS) 2010 and 2007, which were commissioned by the Gambling Commission and conducted by NatCen.
  9. In previous prevalence surveys commissioned by the Commission, problem gambling measured as a percentage of adults showed that prevalence of problem gambling according to the DSM-IV screening tool was 0.9% in 2010 and 0.6% in both 2007 and 1999. The second tool, the PGSI screen, showed a measure of 0.7% of the adult population being affected in 2010 and 0.6 % in 2007.
  10. The Gambling Act 2005 places social responsibility requirements on British-based gambling operators who are also required to contribute to research, education and treatment of problem gamblers. Requirements include: training staff to recognise and deal with problem gambling; implementing policies for interacting with customers who appear to have a gambling problem; prominently displaying where help can be found by those who need it; enabling players on the internet to keep control by setting limits on their stakes; and providing for self-exclusion from gambling premises for players who seek it.

For all media enquiries, please contact the Gambling Commission press office.

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