Participation in online gambling is disproportionately concentrated in the most deprived areas of Britain – with these gamblers more likely to suffer heavy losses, a study has found.
Some 29% of gambling accounts are registered in the most deprived areas while 13% come from the least deprived areas, according to The Patterns of Play report, carried out by the National Center for Social Research (NatCen) and the University of Liverpool for GambleAware charity.
About 25% of gambling-related customer losses came from the 20% most deprived areas, while 15% of the losses came from the 20% least deprived areas.
Researchers analyzed data from 139,152 online accounts for the two games – including bingo, virtual and live casino, poker and slots as well as online betting on sporting events – provided by seven major operators between July 2018 and June 2019.
Overall, betting – mainly on sports such as football and horse racing – was the most popular in terms of the number of participants, but gambling was associated with a higher probability of suffering heavy losses.
Among those who spent the most, a higher proportion had addresses in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The study found that high-spending groups included “many” gamers from very disadvantaged areas, and that the online gambling industry relied on a small percentage of customers with the biggest losses for the big picture. majority of his income, the authors said.
Overall, the “top 10%” of gambling accounts contributed 79% of operator revenue.
Lead analyst Professor David Forrest, University of Liverpool, said: “This study gives us a globally unprecedented opportunity to understand the online gambling landscape. Unlike betting, we find that customer participation and losses in gaming were concentrated in the most deprived areas and that a higher proportion of customers suffered losses of several thousand pounds over the course of the year.
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“While political debate and campaigns have focused on the risks associated with betting, our research shows the importance of raising awareness of the gambling harms associated with online gambling.
“Gambling, particularly slot games, is far more important in terms of total online spending by UK gamblers and analysis of customer account data is generating more red flags indicating potential harm from gambling. .”
NatCen’s Director of Health, Dr Sokratis Dinos, said: “This research provides unprecedented insight into online gambling, with crucial information for future policy and regulation in Britain.
“For gaming and betting, a ‘small number of vital customers’ provides the lion’s share of revenue for major gaming operators. The investigation further indicates that many of these customers may be at risk of experiencing gambling-related harms.”
Zoë Osmond, Managing Director of GambleAware, said: “This research adds to the growing body of evidence showing that gambling harms disproportionately affect poorer communities.
“The current cost of living crisis as well as the economic fallout from the pandemic can only make this even worse, underscoring the need for concerted, system-wide action to prevent gambling harms.
“We welcome the findings and recommendations for future public health campaigns, as we work to remove the barriers that people with gambling harms face when accessing treatment and support.”