Online gambling

GambleAware report sheds light on online gambling habits

Posted on: June 9, 2022, 8:37 a.m.

Last update: June 9, 2022, 9:17 a.m.

GambleAware, one of the organizations promoting responsible gambling in the UK, has released the results of a new study into who gambles the most online. Its assessment places much of the action in areas it claims are “economically disadvantaged”.

Zoe Osmond, CEO of GambleAware
Zoe Osmond, CEO of GambleAware, at the GambleAware21 conference last December. The gambling charity has released a new study which claims that most online gambling comes from regions with lower costs of living. (Image: Twitter/Zoe Osmond)

These areas are home to 29% of online gaming accounts, while 13% of accounts come from economically stronger areas. This is the conclusion of a report that the National Center for Social Research (NCSR) and the University of Liverpool prepared for GambleAware.

The report adds that 25% of gambling customer losses came from the 20% most economically disadvantaged areas. On the other hand, 15% of the losses came from those in the 20% least deprived areas.

nuts and bolts

The researchers analyzed data from 139,152 online gaming accounts, including virtual and live poker, slot machines and betting on sporting events. The study looked at data from seven major operators over the period of July 2018 to June 2019.

Horse racing and football betting were the most popular bet types. However, gambling in online casinos was more likely to lead to heavy losses. The largest expenditures came from neighborhoods that were at the lowest economic level.

The study found that gamers with high spending habits came mostly from poorer areas. As a result, the online gambling industry depended on a small number of high-loss customers to make up the majority of its revenue. Overall, the “top 10%” of gambling accounts contributed 79% of operator revenue.

This research supports the growing body of evidence that gambling harms disproportionately affect poorer communities. The current cost of living crisis and the economic fallout from the pandemic will only make matters worse.said GambleAware CEO Zoe Osmond.

Professor David Forrest from the University of Liverpool was the report’s lead analyst. He claimed that the results provide a great opportunity to understand the fundamentals of online gambling. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is undertaking its own study which will provide additional data points.

He added that participation in gambling led to a “higher proportion of customers who had lost thousands of pounds over the year”. However, that’s still less than many spend on other forms of entertainment each year.

Funding for the research came, in part, from the gaming industry. In the first three quarters of the current financial year, the operators gave GambleAware £16 million (US$21 million) to carry out his studies.

More regulations to come

Dr Sokratis Dinos, director of health at the National Center for Social Research (NatCen), said the research provides unprecedented insight into online games. It also offers crucial information for regulation in Britain. NatCen is another registered charity that depends on outside financial support for its operations.

Dinos added that the fact that only “a few” customers provide the largest share of revenue for major gambling operators is a bad thing. He believes the survey also indicates that many of these customers may be at risk of harm to gambling. However, GambleAware’s study relying on data from four years ago may have skewed the results.

His position is despite evidence to the contrary. Even the UKGC’s own research shows that problem gambling in the UK is down from a year ago and is now around 0.2%.

Forrest pointed out that government and regulatory discussions focus on the dangers of sports betting. However, they should instead target the risks associated with online gambling.

The UK continues to invest millions of pounds every year to study the harms of gambling. But, as data from the UKGC indicates, this may be a misdirection of funds. Later this month, new rules will be coming to the country’s gambling industry, which could lead to unexpected results.