The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has detailed that the number of problem gamblers in the UK is dropping, with general participation in gambling failing to rebuild on pre-pandemic levels.
Publishing its ‘Gambling Behaviour 2021’ report analysing results from a quarterly telephone survey, the UKGC revealed the rate of problem gambling has reduced to 0.3%, down from 0.6% just 18 months ago. The rate of problem gambling amongst females has remained steady at 0.2%.
UKGC noted that participation in gambling during 2021 has failed to reach pre-pandemic levels, with just a 0.6% increase in participation during 2021 following a 5.2% decrease between 2019 and 2020.
Despite the figures appearing to be heading in a positive direction in terms of protecting UK gamblers, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has pleaded with UK lawmakers to avoid making changes to the legislation which would drive traffic towards ‘black market operators‘.
BGC Chief Executive, Michael Dugher, has issued a statement urging the government to make considerations in the upcoming review of the Gambling Act 2005 to stop black market operators from capitalising on strict monopolies, as seen across Europe in recent years.
Reacting to the UKGC statistics, Dugher commented: “Our initiatives have included using advertising to promote safer gambling messages and tools like deposit limits and time-outs, investing more in research and treatment, and introducing tough new rules on VIP schemes.
“One problem gambler is one too many, however, and we are determined to keep up the momentum in the months and years ahead.
“As we continue to make progress on problem gambling and drive ever higher standards on safer gaming in the regulated sector, it’s vital Ministers don’t do anything that drives people to the unsafe, unregulated black market online, which has none of the protections or safer gambling interventions that we see with licensed operators. There is no enforcement solution to tackling the black market. You need to stop customers being driven there with further restrictions that are cumbersome, intrusive and ill-thought-through.
“Ministers need to listen to the 119,000 people whose jobs depend on the regulated betting industry and the millions of punters who overwhelmingly bet safely and responsibly – not the usual suspects from the anti-gambling lobby who just want to ban stuff because they don’t approve of how millions of people choose to spend their own money.”