Gambling Commission highlights increase in gambling participation rates

Figures released by the Gambling Commission reveal that gambling participation rates in Britain are almost back to pre-pandemic levels, and online gambling in particular is now at its highest ever rate with 1 in 4 Brits gambling online.

In the year to March 2022, overall participation in any gambling activity in the past four weeks significantly increased by 3% to 43% (up from 40%) but does remain just short of pre-pandemic participation rates of 47% in the year to March 2020.

Analysis of the Gambling Commission’s data by the UK Addiction Treatment Group shows that the biggest increase in overall gambling was within the 16–24-year-old age group. Their analysis shows that in the year to March 2021, 29.7% of 16–24-year-olds gambled in the past four weeks. This has rocketed by 5% to 34.7% of the same age group in the year to March 2022.

Similarly, their analysis shows that the 55–64-year-old age group have topped pre-pandemic gambling participation rates, rising from 48.7% in the year to March 2020 to 49.8% in the year to March 2022.

Online gambling participation rates have risen to the highest ever recorded. In the year to March 2022, 25.7% of those surveyed had gambled online in the past four weeks. This is up from 23.8% in the previous year and up from 18.5% in the past five years.

UKAT’s analysis again shows that it is the 55–64-year-olds online gambling participation rates that are rising the most, from 27.4% in the year to March 2021 to 31% last year.

The data reveals that aside from the National and other lotteries, it is Sports Betting, in particular Football betting that was the most popular way to gamble online last year.

Online gambling participation rates for Sports Betting rose from 3.9% in the year to March 2021 to 4.5% last year, and for Football betting in particular from 3.4% to 4.2% respectively.

Most worryingly, UKAT’s analysis of the Gambling Commission’s data reveals that the rate of those in the moderate risk gambling category has risen significantly from 0.6% in the year to March 2021 to 0.9% last year. In particular, a significant increase can be seen in the rate of females at moderate risk – rising from just 0.4% in the year to March 2021 to 0.9% of those surveyed last year.

Nuno Albuquerque, consultant treatment lead at the UK Addiction Treatment Group, said: “What today’s report shows us is that as gambling participation rates rise, so does the rate of those at moderate risk of gambling addiction. Clearly, for a lot of people, gambling isn’t a harmless hobby. We see the damage gambling does to people’s lives.

“Online gambling in particular is dangerous as it is too easy and discreet to participate in. We join the chorus of voices who say that this country’s gambling laws are in urgent need of reform. Bigger conversations are necessary especially around affordability checks and a complete ban of gambling advertisements.

“We believe the Government’s white paper of reform is in its final stages and we are keen to see what comes of it.”

The Gambling Commission’s report also reveals that in-person gambling rates have increased again by 3% up from 23% to 26% last year, indicating signs of recovery since the pandemic. The Gambling Commission suggests the increase in in-person gambling is driven by a return to sports betting, horse betting, bingo and fruit and slot machines post-pandemic.