UK Problem Online Gambling Rate: Statistics and Facts

UK Online Gambling Addiction: Statistics and FactsThe United Kingdom boasts one of the largest gambling markets worldwide, generating gross gaming revenue (GGR) of £14.08 billion in the twelve months to March 2022. The country is set to remain a global leader in this respect. According to forecasts published by Technavio, the local gambling market’s size is poised to increase by $2.83 billion (£2.19 billion) by 2026, exhibiting a compound annual growth rate of 5.25%.

The leading market research firm estimates online gambling will be the biggest driver of the local market’s growth due to the relatively few restrictions imposed on this sector. All forms of remote gambling are legal and regulated in the country, including online casino games, peer-to-peer poker, lotteries, bingo, and sports betting. However, market liberalisation is a double-edged sword as it could lead to increased rates of addiction and gambling-related harm.

In today’s report, we focus on gambling addiction in the UK and provide detailed statistical information about gambling participation rates, the prevalence of problem gambling among the population, and the socioeconomic impacts resulting from this issue. Also covered in the report are the measures the local government has adopted to curb gambling addiction in adults and juveniles. But first, let’s have a look at a few facts and figures from the latest reporting period that will give you a better idea about the size of the UK gambling industry.

The UK Gambling Industry in Numbers (April 2021 – March 2022)

  • Overall GGR of the UK gambling industry: £14.09 billion (£9.9 billion excluding lotteries, up 10.9% YoY)
  • GGR of the UK online gambling industry: £6.44 billion (down 6.2% YoY)
  • GGR from landbased gambling: £3.5 billion (up 110.5% YoY)
  • GGR from landbased gambling machines: £1.8 billion (up 96.3% YoY)
  • GGR of the best performing segments: £3.9 billion from online casinos, £2.4 billion from online sportsbooks, £2.1 billion from landbased sportsbooks
  • National Lottery donations to charities and good causes: £1.7 billion (down 0.5% YoY)
  • Donations from other non-commercial lotteries: £417 million (up 3.8% YoY)
  • Number of landbased gambling premises: 8,408 (down 2.5% YoY)
  • Number of landbased bookmaking shops: 6,219 (down 3.8% YoY)
  • Number of regulated gambling businesses: 2,419 (down 0.9% YoY)
  • Number of regulated gambling activities: 3,339 (down 0.9% YoY)
  • Number of active online gambling accounts: 31.88 million (up 7% YoY)
  • Number of newly created online gambling accounts: 32.65 million (down 1% YoY)
  • Combined balance of online gambling accounts: £910.5 million (up 1.9% YoY)

Source: UK Gambling Commission

Gambling Addiction and Problem Gambling

Gambling Addiction and Problem GamblingThe differences between addiction and problem gambling are very nuanced. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which regulates all forms of legal wagering in the country, defines problem gambling, or ludomania, as an activity that disrupts the day-to-day life of individuals and those around them to a certain degree. These disruptions can manifest themselves in various ways, including overspending, job loss, family problems, and general disinterest in pursuing hobbies or other forms of recreation. Such individuals tend to deny or minimise the extent of their problem.

By contrast, gambling addiction is an impulse-control disorder in the clinical sense of the word. Addicts are well aware of their problem and the disruptions it causes but are no longer able to control themselves. Thus, they continue gambling despite the harm this causes to themselves and others. The UKGC relies on the so-called Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) and the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in its surveys on problem gambling.

Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI)

The PGSI comprises nine gambling-related questions survey participants must respond to, with each answer corresponding to a specific score as follows: never (0 points), sometimes (1 point), most of the time (2 points), and almost always (3 points). Combined scores range from zero to 27 points.

A person classifies as a problem gambler if they get a combined score of at least 8 points.

  • A score of 0 points: non-problem gamblers
  • A score of 1 or 2 points: a low level of gambling-related disruptions
  • Scores of 3 to 7 points: a moderate level of risk of gambling-related disruptions
  • Scores of 8 or more points: problem gamblers with possible compulsive behaviours

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

The fourth edition of the DSM is implemented when conducting health surveys in three of the constituent countries comprising the UK (Wales, England, and Scotland). Used to diagnosticate pathological gambling, it comprises a different set of nine questions with four possible answers that range from ‘never’ to ‘very often’. Responses are rated with 0 or 1, with the total possible scores ranging from 0 to 10.

A person classifies as a pathological gambler when they achieve a total score of at least 5 points.

Gambling Participation Rates in the UK

Gambling Participation Rates in the UKWe decided to first look at the participation rates among the adult population to give you some context about the growing concerns related to problem gambling in the UK. Gambling is a popular recreational activity in the country as becomes apparent from the results of the latest quarterly telephone survey carried out by Yonder Consulting on behalf of the UKGC. Participation rates have remained statistically stable at around 44% in the twelve months to March 2023 compared to the previous year.

How Many Adult Brits Participate in Gambling Activities?

To arrive at the results below, Yonder Consulting interviewed 4,002 adult Brits who were asked whether they have gambled over the last four weeks. Here are the key findings of the survey which took place in March 2023.

gambling participation rates in the uk 2019-2023

Source: Yonder Consulting/UK Gambling Commission

Overall gambling participation rates stood at 43.5% in March 2023, representing a decrease of around three percentage points from the same period three years earlier when the coronavirus pandemic was at its peak.
Gambling was more prevalent among males (45.2%) than females (41.8%) in the year to March 2023.
Gambling was the most common among Brits aged 45 to 54 years old (49.4%) compared to all other age groups.
In the year to March 2023, as much as 25.9% of Brits gambled online which is approximately six percentage points higher compared to the twelve months to March 2019.
Landbased gambling participation was also stable at 26.5% compared to the previous year, although the sector is yet to return to its pre-pandemic level of 35% in 2019.
National Lottery draws were the most common type of gambling activity (27.6%), followed by other lotteries (13.4%), scratchcards (7.5%), sports betting (5.1%), online slots (4.8%), wagering among friends and family (4.0%), horse race betting (3.5%), fruit machines (3.3%), and bingo (2.4%).
Approximately 32% of Brits gamble once a week, 20.3% gamble twice a week, and 31.7% gamble once a month. The remaining 15.9% participate in such activities less frequently.
As for sports betting, most Brits (31.8%) have a flutter on athletic events twice a week compared to 27% who punt once a week and 22.9% who have a flutter once a month. The percentage of adults who bet on sports more infrequently stands at 18.3%.

How Many Brits Gamble Actively?

The UKGC collects data from the largest online gambling companies operating on the local market to determine the level of gambling activity among the population during each quarter. After unpacking this information, we established that the number of active slot players in the country has risen by a whopping 101.9% over the last four years, from 2.1 million in March 2019 to 4.2 million in March 2023.

As you can see on the graph below, similar increases can be observed across most of the other verticals. The number of active real-event sports bettors surged by approximately 1.4 million (26.7%), while that of people who actively played casino games other than slots grew by nearly 1 million (58.3%).

number of active online gamblers in the uk 2019-2023

Source: Yonder Consulting/UK Gambling Commission

The only decrease occurred in peer-to-peer poker as the number of active players dropped by 35,331 (-13.3%). We attribute these increases to the fact that much of this data was collected during the coronavirus pandemic when society was placed on lockdowns and people subsequently suffered from increased levels of boredom.

How Many Bets Do Brits Place per Month?

Looking at the latest figures published by the British gambling regulator, we see that local gamblers placed roughly 7.8 billion online wagers across all verticals in March 2023. This mind-blowing number represents a 75.1% increase from the same month four years ago when 4.5 billion bets were placed in total.

Online slots attracted the most action in March 2023 with 6.95 billion bets, while other casino games (377.6 million), real-event sports betting (376.1 million), virtual sports (11.5 million), and peer-to-peer poker (76.4 million) trailed behind.

number of online bets placed in march 2023

Source: Yonder Consulting/UK Gambling Commission

What Is the Average Length of Brits’ Online Gambling Sessions?

The average length of online gambling sessions has decreased from 26 minutes in March 2019 to 17 minutes in the same month this year. We consider this a positive trend since a study published by Australian gambling researchers Alex Russell and Nerilee Hing in 2020 suggested longer betting sessions are associated with a higher risk of developing a gambling problem. The UKGC shares this opinion and considers the increased session length a proxy for potential gambling-related harm. From this perspective, the reduction in session length among Brits is a positive thing.

  • March 2019: 26 minutes on average
  • March 2020: 22 minutes on average (down 15.4% from March 2019)
  • March 2021: 21 minutes on average (down 4.5% from March 2020)
  • March 2022: 18 minutes on average (down 14.3% from March 2021)
  • March 2023: 17 minutes on average (down 5.5% from March 2022)

Source: UK Gambling Commission

Online Sessions Over One Hour Have Increased in Number

On the downside, the number of individual sessions exceeding one hour has risen dramatically by 98.1% over the last four years, which the British gambling regulator sees as troublesome. In March 2019, the sessions over one hour numbered approximately 1.6 million but increased by 353,584 in the same month the following year.

By March 2021 when the coronavirus pandemic was in full swing, the sessions exceeding one hour had surged to 2.7 million, ultimately reaching 3.1 million in March 2023. This means that nearly 6.3% of all gambling sessions during this month have lasted in excess of an hour. What is disconcerting about this upward trend is that it continues well after the coronavirus curbs have eased. You can see the untruncated numbers below.

  • March 2019: 1,573,931 sessions over an hour
  • March 2020: 1,927,515 (up 22.5% from the previous year)
  • March 2021: 2,728,447 (up 41.6% YoY)
  • March 2022: 2,775,805 (up 1.7% YoY)
  • March 2023: 3,118,913 (up 12.4% YoY)

The Number of Betting Machines Sessions Over an Hour Is Also on the Rise

The latest data pulled from the largest retail betting shops in Great Britain reveals that a similar upward trend can be observed when it comes to the duration of machine sessions. When we compared the figures for March 2019 and March 2023, we established that the number of machine sessions exceeding one hour has gone up by 41.4%.

The only significant decline occurred in the first quarter of 2021 but this is understandable considering England was experiencing its third nationwide lockdown at the time. Respectively, the recorded time frame was considerably shorter compared to the standard. Non-essential businesses, landbased gambling operators included, reopened in England in mid-2021 hence the dramatic decline in the number of machine sessions over an hour.

  • March 2019: 160,694 machine sessions over one hour
  • March 2020: 168,911 (up 5.1% YoY)
  • January to March 2021: 1,216
  • March 2022: 239,685 (up 41.9% YoY)
  • March 2023: 227,235 (down 5.2% YoY)

Overall Number of Online Gambling Sessions

Increased engagement is another factor that boosts the risk of developing a gambling problem. In view of this, we find it unsettling that the overall number of online gambling sessions in March of this year is nearly 196% higher compared to the same month in 2019.

  • March 2019: 16,832,862 sessions
  • March 2020: 20,966,567 sessions (up 24.6% compared to March 2019)
  • March 2021: 34,154,434 sessions (up 62.9%)
  • March 2022: 41,809,091 sessions (up 22.4%)
  • March 2023: 49,811,712 sessions (up 19.1%)

Source: UK Gambling Commission

Problem Gambling Prevalence in the UK

Problem Gambling Prevalence in the UKNow that we have given you some context about the extent of gambling in the country, we shall proceed with data that is directly related to problem gambling. Despite the massive popularity of betting among Brits, the UK manages to maintain low problem gambling levels largely thanks to the adequate regulations and strict consumer protection policies that are in place.

Furthermore, the results of the Yonder Consulting survey we mentioned earlier indicate there is a downward trend in the percentage of problem gamblers. It was at its highest in the twelve months to March 2021 when 0.6% of Brits classified as problem gamblers. According to the latest data, this percentage has now dropped to 0.3%. The issue is more prevalent in males (0.4%) than females (0.3%), which makes perfect sense considering more men engage in such activities.

problem gambling prevalence in the uk march 2019-2023

Source: Yonder Consulting/UK Gambling Commission

Prevalence of Problem Gambling by Age Group

The survey carried out by Yonder Consulting identified that young people are more prone to developing a problematic relationship with gambling. Individuals aged 16 to 24 years old are at higher risk of becoming problem gamblers since their young brains are still in the process of developing. The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that governs decision-making, prioritising, and planning, matures fully in the mid-20s.

Brits between the ages of 16 and 24 had the highest incidence of problem gambling in the year to March 2023, with 1% of the people from this age group classifying as problem gamblers. This condition is less common among adults aged 25 to 35 (0.8%) and 35 to 44 (0.6%). All three age groups exhibit a decline in problem gambling rates compared to the twelve months to March 2019.

problem gambling prevalence by age group 2019 2023

Source: Yonder Consulting/UK Gambling Commission

How Many Brits Are at Moderate Risk of Becoming Problem Gamblers?

On a more positive note, the percentage of residents who are at moderate risk of becoming problem gamblers has decreased in recent years, albeit very slightly. While the percentages largely remain statistically stable compared to the previous year, we can still observe a positive downward trend from the years to March 2019 and March 2020 when 1.3% and 1.5% of Brits were at moderate risk of developing a gambling problem.

brits who are at moderate risk 2019-2023

Where gender is concerned, more men (1.6%) are at moderate risk than women (0.9%). The data shows that the percentage of middle-aged people at moderate risk is the highest out of all other age groups included in the Yonder Consulting survey. Individuals aged 65 or older are the least likely to become problem gamblers with only 0.3% but this is understandable considering they do not gamble as frequently.

moderate risk of problem gambling by age group

Source: Yonder Consulting/UK Gambling Commission

How Many Brits Are at Low Risk of Becoming Problem Gamblers?

According to the Problem Gambling Severity Index, the low-risk category consists of individuals who experience very few gambling-related issues without identified negative consequences in their day-to-day lives. However, such people should not be mistaken for non-problem gamblers who comprise the largest portion of the population.

The percentage of low-risk gamblers has decreased almost two-fold since March 2019, dropping from 3.4% to 1.8% in the same month of this year. Low-risk gambling is more common among males (2.9%) than females (0.8%).

In terms of age, people aged 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 account for the largest portion of low-risk gamblers (2.3% for each group). As much as 1.9% of all low-risk gamblers are young adults in the ages between 16 and 24 years.

low risk gamblers in the uk 2019-2023

Source: Yonder Consulting/UK Gambling Commission

Trends among British Gamblers

Trends among British GamblersThe shorter version of the PGSI screen test consists of three questions only, with answers ranging from ‘never’ to ‘almost always’. This version is used for Yonder Consulting survey participants who have gambled one or more times during the past year.

Such gamblers are asked whether they have wagered more money than they could afford to lose, whether people have criticised them for their gambling, and whether they have felt guilt about their betting. UKGC data collected from Q1 2016 to Q1 2023 provides valuable insights into the answers.

Gamblers Risking More Money Than They Can Afford to Lose

The percentage of gamblers who have risked more money than they could afford to lose averages 2.4% across the entire tracking period specified above.
This behaviour peaked in 2017 when 3.2% of British gamblers admitted to wagering more than they could afford to lose.
The practice was at its lowest in 2020 and 2021, when only 1.6% and 1.7% of gamblers indulged in it on average.
Risking more than one can afford to lose is more common among male gamblers (3.1%) than females (1.7%).
On the whole, young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 (3.8%) are more prone to exhibit this behaviour compared to older individuals aged 65 or above (1.4%). The difference between the disposable incomes of the two age groups is one possible explanation for this trend.

Gamblers Facing Criticism for Their Wagering

On average, 1.4% of British gamblers were criticised for their betting activities during the tracking period between Q1 2016 and Q1 2023. The number of people reporting to have experienced this declined significantly between 2018 and 2022.
More men (2.2%) come under criticism for their gambling compared to women (0.7%). A downward trend towards less criticism for male gamblers has been observed in recent years as only 1.1% were condemned for their betting in 2021.
Overall, young people suffer more criticism for their engagement in gambling compared to individuals aged 65 and above. During the entire tracking period, only 0.5% of Brits aged 65 reported being criticised for their gambling. By contrast, 2.8% of young Brits between the ages of 16 and 24 reported the same.

Gamblers Experiencing Guilt Because of Their Betting

People who gamble excessively often experience guilt about their wagering and this was the case for 2.5% of British gamblers who participated in surveys during the entire tracking period.
The levels of guilt among gamblers were at their highest in 2016 and 2017 when they stood at 4% and 3.2%, respectively.
Guilt has been on a gradual decline since 2017 and slumped to its ultimate trough in the fourth quarter of 2022 when only 1.5% of gamblers experienced remorse about their betting.
Guilt among male gamblers peaked at 6% in 2016. As a whole, men are more prone to feel guilty about their gambling. Roughly 3.6% of them reported feelings of guilt across this period, while the percentage was nearly twice as low among women at 1.4%.
The prevalence of guilt is at its lowest among older gamblers aged 65 and above as only 0.7% of people from this age group felt guilty about their betting during this period. Guilt rates are considerably higher (4%) among younger individuals between the ages of 16 and 24.

trends among british gamblers 2023

Source: Yonder Consulting/UK Gambling Commission

Contributions for Problem Gambling Prevention, Treatment, and Research

Contributions for Problem Gambling Prevention, Treatment, and ResearchAll licensed gambling companies operating on the UK market are required to contribute a portion of their annual revenue to organisations that provide free counselling, support, and treatment to residents who suffer from problem gambling and addictions. Some of the donated funds go towards prevention and research.

UKGC-Approved Organisations for Treatment, Prevention, and Research

The UKGC has 29 organisations on its list of approved entities at the time of publication. Each year, licensed operators must channel their donations to at least one of these organisations for free counselling and support. Contributions made to entities that provide paid services do not count.

  • Non-profit organisations: 18
  • Private companies: 3
  • University research: 3
  • Community interest companies: 5

How Much Money Goes Towards Problem Gambling Treatment, Prevention, and Research?

Official data published by the British gambling regulator reveals that licensed operators collectively contributed approximately £39.7 million from April 2021 to March 2022. The biggest inflow of donations occurred between January and March of 2022 when the approved organisation collected around £25.6 million in contributions. GambleAware raised the highest amount during these twelve months, with £34.7 million in donations or 87.3% of the overall contributions made.

Problem Gambling Donations per Quarter

  • April to June 2021: £3,128,298
  • July to September 2021: £7,066,574 (up 125.9% from Q1)
  • October to December 2021: £4,287,453 (down 39.3% from Q2)
  • January to March 2022: £25,252,433 (up 489% from Q3)

All in all, donations directed to approved organisations went up by 707.2% from Q1 to Q4, which is definitely a change in a positive direction where the country’s battle against gambling harm is concerned. Below, you can track which recipients attracted the most contributions during this period.

How Much Money Do Problem Gambling Organisations Collect?

  • #1. GambleAware: £34,702,824 from April 2021 to March 2022
  • #2. GamCare: £1,826,285
  • #3. Young Gamer and Gamblers Education Trust: £1,417,136
  • #4. Gordon Moody Association: £700,654
  • #5. EPIC Risk Management: £484,284
  • #6. Leon House Health and Wellbeing: £245,400
  • #7. Betknowmore UK: £188,850
  • #8. Deal Me Out: £92,850
  • #9. ESG Corporate Community Interest Company: £34,884
  • #10. Betblocker: £21,394

How Many Brits Seek Assistance for Problem Gambling?

How Many Brits Seek Assistance for Problem Gambling?GambleAware, the recipient of the largest share of contributions from gambling operators, commissioned a survey with the data analytics company YouGov to establish how many Brits seek treatment and support for gambling-related problems. The study was conducted in November 2021 and involved a nationally representative sample of 4,000 individuals.

According to the findings, as much as 15% of British gamblers with a PGSI score of 1+ sought professional treatment over the year prior to being surveyed. For clarification, the full version of the PGSI screen test was used to determine whether the surveyed participants qualified as problem gamblers. A PGSI score of 1 or 2 points indicates a low level of gambling-related problems, while scores equal to or exceeding 8 points correspond to gambling with severe negative consequences.

Usage of Professional Treatment among PGSI 1+ Gamblers (2019-2021)
PGSI Score201920202021
All 1+ Gamblers12.00%14.00%15.00%
1 – 2 Scores2.00%2.00%2.00%
3 – 7 Scores9.00%9.00%6.00%
8+ Scores43.00%53.00%55.00%

Approximately 14% of all PGSI 1+ gamblers reported seeking advice from friends, relatives, or support groups. This percentage is significantly greater among high-risk gamblers with scores exceeding 8 points. As much as 80% of all surveyed PGSI 1+ gamblers did not seek treatment or support.

Preferred Types of Treatment and Support among Problem Gamblers in the UK

Most PGSI 1+ gamblers in the UK prefer to use person-to-person or online mental health services when seeking treatment. Some lean towards private counsellors and therapists, while others rely on the National Health Service (NHS), general practitioners, social workers, and other addiction services.

preferred types of treatment

Source: YouGov/GambleAware

Preferred Sources of Support and Advice among Problem Gamblers in the UK

Friends and family are the most common source of support or advice, followed by self-exclusion, spouses or partners, specialised websites, self-help applications or tools, and specialised literature, among others. These are usually the first steps taken by individuals who suffer from problem gambling. Most people resort to professional councillors only if these steps prove unsuccessful.

preferred sources of advice and support

Source: YouGov/GambleAware

Problem Gambling Treatment and Support by Age Group

Younger adults between the ages of 18 and 24 are more likely to seek assistance and support compared to their older counterparts, especially if they have achieved higher scores on the PGSI tests. This tendency is particularly noticeable among gamblers from this age group with PGSI scores of 8 points or higher. As you can see below, older individuals aged 55 and above are the least likely to seek professional treatment or counselling.

problem gambling treatment and support usage by age group

Source: YouGov/GambleAware

Reasons for Seeking Treatment

According to data collected by YouGov, mental health issues like anxiety are the most common reason for seeking assistance among gamblers with a PGSI of 1+. Approximately one in three gamblers sought treatment or counselling due to feeling anxious or worried as a result of their wagering. Financial issues or changed financial circumstances ranked as the second most widespread reason in 2021, followed by the negative impacts of gambling on relationships and personal life.

most common reasons for seeking treatment or support

Source: YouGov/GambleAware

Factors Leading to Heightened Risk of Developing Gambling Problems

Co-Existing Psychological or Physical Conditions
Gamblers who suffer from co-existing physical or psychological conditions (23%) are more likely to seek assistance compared to those who don’t (15%). One possible explanation is that such individuals typically achieve higher scores on the PGSI screens and are at heightened risk of developing gambling problems.
Higher Alcohol Consumption
Higher alcohol consumption is also associated with an increased risk of developing gambling problems. Data sourced from YouGov indicates that roughly 73% of problem gamblers who drink heavily sought assistance and counselling for their wagering in 2021.
Heightened Distress Levels
Similar tendencies are observed among gamblers who frequently experience psychological distress. Around 68% of problem gamblers who struggled with acute distress sought treatment for their wagering in 2021. The percentage was twice as low among those with lower distress levels.
Lower Annual Income
Problem gambling has a higher incidence among Brits with lower incomes. According to YouGov, as much as 26% of gamblers from households earning less than £20,000 annually required support and treatment for their excessive wagering. On the other side of the coin, gamblers whose gross household income exceeds £60,000 per year appear to be at lower risk as only one in ten (11%) reported seeking treatment for their gambling in 2021.
Race and Ethnicity
The data collected by YouGov suggests that problem gambling does not affect all ethnicities equally. It appears this issue is more prevalent among people belonging to the Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) groups compared to their white counterparts. Around 36% of gamblers from BAME communities resorted to treatment for their wagering. The percentage is nearly twice as low among white gamblers (16%) with PGSI scores of 1+.

Problem Gamblers Seeking Long-Term Support

Problem Gamblers Seeking Long-Term SupportRelapses are common among people who struggle with addictions and problem gamblers are no exception. A relapse occurs when a person returns to excessive gambling after a period of abstinence from betting. Because of this, most individuals struggling with this condition require long-term assistance and counselling.

Many problem gamblers that participated in the 2021 YouGov survey reported they have sought treatment and support more than once. Many have resorted to using different forms of assistance, which goes to show this problem requires a holistic approach. What works for one person may prove ineffective for another, and vice versa.

More than half of the gamblers (56%) who admitted to using mental health services, said they had done so before. Similar tendencies can be observed among people who resorted to other forms of assistance like self-help apps (52%) or seeing their general practitioner (44%). Self-exclusion appears to be the most effective method of conquering problem gambling as 65% of the gamblers who voluntarily excluded themselves claimed this was their first time doing so.

Gamblers Who Have Sought Help More Than Once
Form of Treatment or SupportGamblers Who Had Used the Service BeforeFirst-Time UsersDon’t Know
Private Mental Help-Services56.00%31.00%13.00%
Self-Help Tools52.00%37.00%11.00%
Seeing a General Practitioner44.00%43.00%14.00%
Specialist Treatment Services for Gambling43.00%45.00%12.00%
National Health Service (NHS)43.00%41.00%16.00%
Support from Friends or Relatives39.00%53.00%8.00%
Support from Spouse or Partner38.00%50.00%12.00%
Specialised Websites (GamCare, GambleAware)35.00%48.00%17.00%
Help from Social Workers31.00%44.00%24.00%

Source: YouGov/GambleAware

Impact of Problem Gambling on Others

Impact of Problem Gambling on OthersProblem gambling can have pronounced negative effects not only on gamblers themselves but on those around them, including friends, relatives, and colleagues. According to YouGov, approximately 3.34 million adults (6%) in the UK have experienced the negative consequences of someone else’s gambling problem.

Over half of the affected individuals (53%) suffered from the excessive gambling of a close family member like a spouse, parent, or sibling. One in five said they experienced problems as a result of the gambling of a roommate or friend.

whose gambling problems negatively affect brits

Source: YouGov/GambleAware

Most victims of another person’s problem gambling are females, which makes sense considering the majority of people who suffer from this condition are male. The bulk of relationships in the country are heterosexual, which results in more female spouses being affected by their partners’ gambling problems.

How Severe Is the Impact of Problem Gambling on Others?

Most Brits who were affected by the excessive gambling of a spouse or partner (43%) describe the impact as ‘severe’. We attribute this to the intimate nature of the relationships between spouses. Severe negative effects are also frequently observed among those affected by the gambling of their parents, children, or siblings.

severity of impact on brits affected by another person problem gambling

Source: YouGov/GambleAware

Types of Negative Impacts Problem Gambling Has on Others

It is important to understand that excessive gambling can have profound negative effects on both gamblers and the people around them. While these negative impacts are far-reaching, the majority of the individuals affected by someone else’s problem gambling report this behaviour has resulted in the loss of trust (53%), followed by angry feelings towards the gambler (45%), and depression or sadness (45%).

types of negative impacts problem gambling has on others

Source: YouGov/GambleAware

How Common Is Self-Exclusion among British Gamblers?

How Common Is Self-Exclusion among British Gamblers?The nationwide self-exclusion scheme GAMSTOP reported 84,000 Brits voluntarily blocked themselves from online gambling participation in 2022. This number is the highest the organisation has seen to date and represents a 6% increase from the previous year. Here are some other interesting facts regarding self-exclusion in the UK.

As many as 341,365 Brits have voluntarily banned themselves from online gambling since the national self-exclusion scheme launched in the spring of 2018.
Self-exclusion is more common among men – 71% of all excluded gamblers are male.
Roughly 75% of gamblers who participate in the self-exclusion scheme are fully or partially employed.
Around 62% of the self-exclusion scheme’s users live in households without children compared to 23% who come from single-person households.
Half of the excluded gamblers learned about the scheme from online searches.
Five years is the preferred exclusion period for 71% of all gamblers who use GAMSTOP.
Most gamblers (56%) register with the scheme because they want to prevent themselves from participating in online gambling. Another 20% self-exclude from all forms of gambling, while 13% cite taking a short break from wagering as their main goal.
Self-exclusion has helped 80% of all gamblers achieve their desired goal, be it reducing participation, regaining control, or quitting gambling altogether.
The most common reasons for self-exclusion include incurring financial losses, spending too much time gambling on the internet, and losing control over one’s wagering.
Self-exclusion helped approximately 84% of all registered users to regain control over their gambling.
Another 82% of the self-excluded claim the scheme has helped them stop or significantly reduce their online gambling participation at UKGC-licensed websites.
Registering with the scheme is a seamless process for 89% of gamblers. Another 80% describe self-exclusion as an effective approach toward controlling their online gambling.
Anxiety and stress levels decreased for 70% of the self-excluded gamblers. Around 77% report regaining control over their finances, while 60% say they can better concentrate while at work.
Family relationships improved for 63% of the gamblers who resorted to registering with the scheme.
Self-exclusion helped 84% of all registered GAMSTOP users feel safer from gambling harm.


Gender and Age of GAMSTOP Users

While problem gambling does not discriminate based on race, age, or gender, Sonnet Advisory and Impact analysed the demographic profile of those who use the scheme to determine which groups resort to self-exclusion the most often. To this end, the consulting firm was commissioned by GAMSTOP to conduct a survey that involved 51,833 users.

Sonnet established that people aged 35 to 44 years old comprise the largest portion of gamblers (30%) registered with the scheme in 2021. Self-exclusion is less common among gamblers from the 25-34 and 45-54 age groups, which represented 23% and 25% of the entire user base. As for gender, the percentage of self-excluded females was the highest among those aged 45 to 54 (29%). By contrast, the largest group of self-excluded males comprised gamblers of the ages between 35 and 44.

Ethnicity of Self-Excluded Gamblers

In terms of ethnicity, most self-excluded gamblers, or 89%, were white compared to Asian (3%), Black (2%), and multiracial (1%). These results are inconsistent with the findings of the YouGov study that suggests BAME residents are more likely to suffer from gambling-related problems. The discrepancies may be due to the fact that YouGov used the PGSI scale to identify people classified as problem gamblers, whereas the self-exclusion scheme is accessible to all. It may be implemented by a broader population even if some self-excluded individuals do not satisfy the criteria adopted in the YouGov analysis.

ethic composition of self-excluded gamblers in the uk

Source: Sonnet Advisory and Impact

Income and Household Size of Self-Excluded Gamblers

The Sonnet Advisory and Impact survey indicates that most gamblers who voluntarily exclude themselves from gambling belong to the higher income bracket, with 29% of all self-exclusions coming from people who earn more than £48,000 annually.

As much as 63% of the self-exclusions occur in households without children. The majority of self-excluded Brits either lived by themselves (23%) or with one more adult person. Single-parent households represent 9% of the self-exclusions.

Most voluntary bans occurred among persons who were either fully or partially employed (75%) compared to the unemployed gamblers who accounted for 4% of the GAMSTOP exclusions only. Most users of the scheme are residing in privately rented housing. Only 20% of the excluded were residents of public housing properties.

Length of Self-Exclusion via GAMSTOP

Most Brits who resort to the GAMSTOP scheme opt for the longest possible period of temporary self-exclusion, which is five years. As much as 71% of the self-excluded gamblers have opted for this period. Five years is the preferred exclusion length of 58% of the scheme’s users aged 18 to 24 as opposed to 74% of those aged 65 to 74. Mostly males (73%) prefer the five-year period compared to females (67%).

Nearly half of all excluded Brits (48%) say they learned about GAMSTOP via an online search, which goes to show most were unaware of the scheme’s existence prior to searching for ways to cease gambling.

Around 23% of the older individuals aged 55 to 64 learned about the scheme from a gambling company as opposed to 14% of the gamblers aged 18 to 24 years old. Approximately 22% of the young people from this age group were informed about GAMSTOP by relatives or friends. In contrast, only 7% of the older excluded gamblers said they had learned about the scheme this way.

Number of Self-Exclusions in Other Regulated Markets

Many regulated markets have introduced self-exclusion schemes in an attempt to curb problem gambling rates among their population. Sweden, Denmark, and Finland serve as prime examples as all three countries have nationwide exclusion registers.

In Sweden, as many as 95,603 individuals have voluntarily restricted themselves from gambling via the centralised Spelpaus self-exclusion network. The scheme was introduced in 2019 and enables local problem gamblers to exclude themselves for one, three, and six months or until further notice.


Denmark launched a centralised self-exclusion scheme (ROFUS) as early as 2012. The number of gamblers registered with the scheme reached 42,853 individuals in May 2023. Out of those, 28,194 people opted for permanent self-exclusion, while the remaining 14,389 temporarily restricted themselves from gambling.


In Finland, the state-owned Veikkaus holds a monopoly on all legal forms of gambling available in the country. Company reports reveal there were 23,650 effective self-exclusions at the end of 2020, out of which 9,956 were permanent.


Problem Gambling Incidence among Minors in the UK

Problem Gambling Incidence among Minors in the UKGambling participation rates among underage Brits are on the rise and the statistics are quite alarming, to say the least. According to a report published by the UKGC in 2022, roughly 0.9% of British minors between the ages of 11 and 16 are classified as problem gamblers. Another 2.4% of the young people from this age group are thought to be at risk of developing gambling problems. This section provides more interesting insights into gambling participation rates among adolescents in the UK.

Around 31% of adolescents admit they have gambled with their own money in the past twelve months. The majority had access to products without age restrictions, including arcades like claw grabber machines (22%), playing cards with relatives or peers for money (5%), and wagering for real money with family members or friends (15%).
Most of the adolescents who spent their own money on gambling, or 23%, participated in regulated forms of wagering as opposed to 18% who placed bets on illegal forms of gambling.
Roughly 3% of the adolescents have played slot machines, while another 2% have wagered on esports contests. Wagering through betting sites or apps, playing bingo or online casino games, and purchasing scratchcards are less common activities among minors.
Problem gambling is more prevalent among teens aged 15 (1.2%) compared to 16-year-olds (0.3%) and 14-year-olds (1.1%). Official data suggests boys are less likely to develop gambling problems compared to girls.
The majority of young people who have wagered with their own money (78%) did so because they regard gambling as a fun activity. Approximately one in five adolescents claim that gambling makes them happy.
Almost one in three (28%) adolescents have witnessed a member of their immediate family participate in gambling, with 7% claiming this has led to more arguments or tension at home.
Around one in twenty minors (7%) say that witnessing a close family member gamble worries them to a certain degree, while another 5% say it saddens them.

Recently Adopted Measures for Gambling Harm Reduction

Recently Adopted Measures for Gambling Harm ReductionThe British watchdog has introduced various measures to minimise the harmful effects gambling has on minors, vulnerable individuals, and on society as a whole. Below, we have compiled the most important regulatory changes that have come into effect in recent years.

FOBT Maximum Stake Reduction
In 2018, the maximum wagers UK gamblers can place on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) were reduced from £100 to £2 per round. The decision was prompted by the highly addictive nature of these machines, which some people describe as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’. The measure aims to prevent gamblers from racking up massive losses over a short period.
Stricter Identity and Age Verification Policies
In May 2019, the UKGC introduced new licensing conditions that require online gambling operators to adopt stricter verification policies to confirm the identity and age of their customers. Remote gambling firms are now required to perform obligatory verification checks of each new player before allowing them to process deposits or engage in any form of gambling, including free-to-play games. The decision was partially prompted by the fact that roughly 15% of all consumer complaints in the UKGC contact centre were made by customers who were unable to withdraw their money prior to verification.
Whistle-to-Whistle Ban on Televised Gambling Advertisements
In August 2019, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) agreed to enforce a voluntary ban on televised betting advertisements during live sports events. BGC member operators can no longer broadcast their ads during sporting events before the 9 PM watershed. This includes the five-minute windows before and after the beginning and end of the live matches. According to the BGC, the self-imposed ban has resulted in a 97% reduction in the amount of gambling-related ads seen by minors on television.
Credit Card Gambling Ban
In April 2020, the UKGC announced a nationwide ban on using credit cards as a method of funding one’s gambling activities. The prohibition extends to both online and landbased gambling operators who can no longer accept this payment method. Depositing at online gambling sites via e-wallets is also prohibited if their balance was topped up via a credit card. A study commissioned by the UKGC revealed roughly 22% of all people who gamble with credit cards over the internet classify as problem gamblers.
Ban on Certain Features in Online Slots
In February 2021, the British gambling watchdog unveiled a ban on certain features incorporated into online slots, including the Autoplay and Quick Spin functionalities. Additionally, consumers are no longer able to play multiple slot games simultaneously in split-screen or multi-screen mode. The minimum time between individual game cycles on slots should be at least 2.5 seconds. The primary motivation behind these measures was to prevent gamblers from engaging in potentially harmful gameplay.

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