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UK’s expanding online gambling market enables high-risk behaviors the industry must address

UK’s expanding online gambling market enables high risk behaviors the industry must address
Posted on November 24, 2023

The UK Gambling Commission recently published the latest data gathered through its Experimental Gambling Prevalence Survey, providing insight into evolving participation trends and potential issues. As covered by FocusGN, the new report reveals upticks in both overall gambling involvement and the use of multiple online gambling products over the 12 months through June 2023.

Analyzing the survey outcomes, several vital takeaways emerge regarding consumer behaviors and responsible gambling practices in the UK market. Most notable is the year-over-year increase from 45.8% to 46.5% in respondents classified as gamblers based on activities over the past four weeks—additionally, 27.9% gambled online compared to 26.8% in the 2020 survey.

While the 1.5 million rise in total gamblers seems small, this uptrend, combined with more consumers spreading their spend across multiple sites and apps, points to higher risk potential. As online gambling grows more popular and accessible through smartphones, implementing controls and safeguards becomes more essential.

As highlighted in the original FocusGN article[1], the UK Gambling Commission Chief Executive Andrew Rhodes emphasizes the need for operators to use data to identify harmful play patterns. The latest survey shows that 31.9% of online gamblers utilize three or more different products. Meanwhile, nearly 14% exhibit signs of gambling disorder or harm based on the Problem Gambling Severity Index.

Rhodes suggests operators should intervene when consumers access multiple sites chasing losses, display erratic spending changes, or play at unsustainable levels. This “affordability checks” concept means leveraging analytics insights to encourage responsible gambling habits. However, implementing such measures at scale poses technological and methodological challenges around individuals’ privacy rights.

At a high level, the survey data paints contrasting pictures of the British gambling scene. While casual participation grows moderately, signs of potentially dangerous behavior in a subset of gamblers also show slight increases. Gambling disorder rates remain primarily stable at around 0.3% but are notably higher among regular online bettors and casino game players.

Achieving a balance between enjoyment, fair odds, and mitigating harm is an industry-wide work in progress exemplified by these mixed UK data points. As online betting and gaming options evolve, best practices surrounding informed consumer choice, risk communication, and identifying problematic tendencies demand continued reassessment. New Zealand and worldwide regulators face parallel needs to encourage accountability around problem gambling safeguards.


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