A survey by the Gambling Commission suggests the British perception of gambling is improving for the first time in the last five years when the first survey was initiated. After subsequent years of worsening public attitudes, respondents who were surveyed by phone recorded statistically-significant improvements in their views on gambling.
Gambling Commission’s Surveys Study Gambling Attitude, Harm & Prevalence
The Gambling Commission (GC) launched its yearly phone surveys in 2016. The surveys consist of a series of important questions meant to examine people’s attitudes, views, and expectations regarding gambling activities. The survey includes questions such as the prevalence of gambling in the UK and people’s perceptions and attitudes toward gambling.
The survey also asks respondents to rate the harms associated with gambling. The December 2021 survey gathered 4,021 respondents. For the first time since the launch of the survey, people’s responses at the poll showed a significant improvement in perception regarding gambling on a year-on-year comparison.
Anti-Gambling Feelings Still Reflected in People’s Responses
When compared to people’s responses in December 2020, the survey shows that certain attitudes have sweetened. However, a large number of respondents representative of the majority of the population in the country continues to hold onto their anti-gambling feelings. In 2020, little over 63% of all poll respondents believed gambling should be discouraged. One year later, the percentage dropped to 58.9%. At the same time, the percentage of respondents who believed most gamblers play in a sensible manner reached a new all-time high at 40.2% compared to previous years.
Close to 70% of people labeled gambling as dangerous for families, down 4.6% compared to last year’s figures and marking the lowest numbers over the five surveys that the Gambling Commission has completed.
More People Agree That “Gambling Livens Up Life “
In spite of the larger number of respondents who agreed that “gambling livens up life” in December 2021 compared to December 2020, the changes in percentage were too insignificant to count statistically speaking. The same goes for people’s more optimistic attitudes when asked whether they think the number of gambling opportunities is too large nowadays.
“Gambling is fair and can be trusted,” said 36.2% of the gamblers who answered the phone survey in 2021, compared to only 31.9% in 2002. Close to 43% of all respondents admitted to having gambled in the months prior to the survey, similar to 2020’s figure of 42%. However, the percentage was smaller than the 47.2% figure recorded before the Covid-19 pandemic.
As for online forms of gambling, the numbers of people who reported they had gambled using an online platform in the past year went up from 21.1% in 2019 to 25.3% in 2021, with the 2020 numbers very close to the 2021 percentage. Online casino gambling dropped from 1.1% to 0.6%, while sports betting kept a balance at 5.3% of respondents admitting to having wagered on sports. Online slot games and instant win options also suffered a drop.
BGC’s Initiatives to Keep the Gambling Harm Rate Low Paid Off
The same survey tried to establish the level of harm connected to gambling in the UK’s population. Only 0.3% of the people who answered the poll were considered “problem gamblers” as assessed by the Problem Gambling Severity Index. Players at moderate risk of gambling harm reached 0.8%, while low-risk gamblers were represented by 1.9% of the population.
According to the Betting and Gaming Council’s chief executive Michael Dugher, their initiatives to advertise safe gambling tools and messages, promote time-outs and deposit limits, or use tougher rules on VIP programs contributed toward the lower gambling harm rates recorded in December 2021. The council is determined to take advantage of the momentum in the upcoming years.
Other public and private institutions are chipping in, joining efforts to cut gambling harms. In 2020, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care blocked around 2,000 attempts to access gambling sites. On the opposite side, in a controversial statement issued in January 2022, the all-party parliamentary groups argued that the UKGC had been too harsh on the industry.