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Gambling addiction could be a bigger problem than previously thought

19 May 2020

New research suggests levels of gambling addiction could be even higher than was previously thought and half of those with a problem are not getting the help they need.

A YouGov survey of 16,000 people commissioned by GambleAware estimated that up to 2.7% of adults in Great Britain were problem gamblers.

This is far higher than a previous estimate of 0.7% from a survey conducted by the Gambling Commission which regulates the gambling industry.

The report also found that 7% of adults, or 3.6 million people say they’ve been negatively affected by someone else’s gambling addiction.

Overall, the YouGov research suggests as many as 5 million people in Great Britain have in some way experienced harm linked to gambling.

Experts urge cau­tion over findings

Online gambling has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic

Experts have cautioned that YouGov’s survey is likely to be an overestimation and the true number is probably closer to the 0.7% figure identified by the Gambling Commission.

Poli­cy­makers should take note

Responding to the survey, Labour MP Carolyn Harris said:

Whilst the rate of 2.7% could well be an overestimate, the health survey data seems to be a significant underestimate. This new data suggests that addiction levels are far higher than has been previously thought. Policymakers, the regulator and gambling support services must take note of these important findings and ensure that the correct provision and regulation is in place to support gamblers in the UK.
Carolyn Harris MP Chair of the APG on Gambling Related Harms

People not access­ing the help they need

Stress 2
Gambling addiction can ruin lives

The report also found nearly half of those with a gambling addiction were not receiving any treatment.

Both a lack of awareness of available services and the social stigma associated with gambling addiction were cited as reasons for this outcome.

CARE’s view

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New Gambling laws are needed to protect the most vulnerable

While it's right to be cautious about the 2.7% figure, it's not presumptuous to suggest the overall number of people in Great Britain with a gambling related problem is higher than was previously thought. Sadly, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. The response of the gambling industry to the coronavirus pandemic has been disgraceful and shows where its priorities lie. As such, it's critical new measures are introduced now to protect problem gamblers from harm. The promised review of the 2005 Gambling Act will then be a major opportunity for positive change. We need new gambling laws that provide adequate protection for vulnerable people.



While for some, gambling is just harmless fun, for a significant minority it causes genuine devastation. Our vision is to see laws passed that will help protect vulnerable problem gamblers.

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