- New findings show that almost two in three (64%) adults who experience significant harm (PGSI 8+) from gambling knew someone who gambled when they were a child , compared to only 1 in 4 adults who do not currently gamble highlighting a potential link between early exposure to gambling and risk of experiencing harm later in life
- A third of adults experiencing significant gambling harms have not accessed treatment and support, with stigma acting as a key barrier
- Relapse rates, among those attempting to stop or reduce gambling, are highest (87%) amongst those already experiencing significant gambling harms
London, 6th July 2023: GambleAware, the leading charity commissioning gambling harm prevention and treatment services, has today published its latest annual survey on gambling harms and treatment and support needs among those who gamble and those affected by another’s gambling.
The report, conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative survey of 18,000 adults, found that early exposure – seeing family members gamble or gambling advertising and marketing on TV – can be associated with a greater risk of gambling harms later in life. Almost two in three (64%) of those classified as experiencing significant harm (PGSI 8+) said they knew someone who gambled regularly (e.g. once a week or more) before they turned 18. By comparison, among adults who do not gamble, only 1 in 4 (25%) reported knowing someone else who gambled.
The study sheds light on how many people in Britain were first exposed to gambling when they were a young child, with 1 in 16 (6%) exposed before the age of 5 and over a quarter (28%) between the ages of 6-11. It also reveals that one in five adults (22%) reported first having gambled before they were 18 years old, including one in six (16%) who started between the ages of 12-17. Qualitative responses show that this introduction was seen as a ‘turning point’ by many, or a hobby that they had inherited from their family that led to harmful gambling.
Participants interviewed in the qualitative research also expressed concern over the amount of gambling advertisement on television and mobile phone apps. They said it is extremely difficult to restrict or prevent children from being exposed to such material due to its ‘always on’ nature, leading to fears of harmful gambling becoming a generational issue. The research shows an increase in young people (aged 18-24) experiencing significant harm from gambling (PGSI 8+), rising from 5.1% to 8.5% of this age group.'
Those classified at significant-risk (PGSI 8+) of gambling harms remain more likely to have used advice, support and treatment than those with lower scores. While just five percent of those classified as low-risk (PGSI score of 1-2) had used advice, support or treatment, this increases to 17% of those classified as moderate-risk (PGSI score of 3-7), and 66% of those classified as PGSI 8+.
The report found that seven per cent of the adult population identified as an ‘affected other’ who have been negatively affected by another’s gambling; comparable with 2021. This equates to an estimate of approximately 3.6 million GB adults. On top of this, the survey also suggests that an estimated 1.6 million children under 18 live with an adult experiencing significant harms from their gambling.
The report also shows that nearly half (48%) of those experiencing significant gambling harms felt “embarrassed or ashamed” of their gambling all or most of the time. These findings were a key theme in interviews with participants, where an overwhelming majority felt reluctant to talk about their gambling to family or friends.
The report highlights that stigma (e.g. feeling embarrassed, not wanting people to find out) surrounding gambling is a key barrier to many who gamble when seeking support and can also negatively impact the mental health of many who are at risk.
Among those classified as PGSI 8+, 34% had not used any form of advice, support or treatment to reduce their gambling in the past 12 months. Of those not wanting support, 40% cited stigma as a barrier.
The report also shows that many people who gamble have tried to cut back on gambling in the last year – rising to 3 in 5 (59%) of those experiencing problem gambling (PGSI 8+). However, this often resulted in ‘relapse’ later on with most people who say they attempted to stop or reduce gambling saying they started gambling again. Relapse was highest amongst those with a PGSI score of 8+ (87%), with 72% of those who have a PGSI score of 3+ reporting relapse and 64% of those with a PGSI score of 1+ reporting a relapse in the last 12 months. Qualitative responses from focus groups identified the role that financial circumstances, life events, mental health and gambling promotions can all play as potential triggers for relapse.
Zoë Osmond, Chief Executive of GambleAware, said: “As the lead commissioning charity in Great Britain, we are pleased to publish this year’s landmark Treatment and Support Survey. Gambling harms are a serious public health issue and can affect anyone, including an increasing amount of children and young people.
“We are concerned about the normalisation of gambling across society, with this year’s report clearly highlighting a potential link between early exposure and harms in later life, as well as a worry by parents who feel unable to shield their children from the plethora of advertising and marketing.
“It is also important to end the stigma associated with gambling, which is acting as a key barrier to those wanting advice and support. We encourage people to come forward and open up the conversation about gambling to put an end to stigma and ensure people get the help they need.”
Kate Gosschalk, Research Manager, YouGov, said: “We are pleased to share the findings from the fourth annual treatment and support survey. This year, the research – which included a substantial online survey of 18,000 people and 30 in-depth telephone interviews - explored new areas including when people were first exposed to gambling and the effect gambling has on children.
“This survey can help us learn more about gambling harms in Great Britain and what can be done to ensure people receive the help and support they need going forward.”
- GambleAware is the leading independent charity (Charity No. England & Wales 1093910, Scotland SC049433) and strategic commissioner of gambling harm education, prevention and treatment across Great Britain to keep people safe from gambling harms.
- GambleAware commissions the National Gambling Support Network (NSGN) which provides, free confidential treatment, as well as the National Gambling Helpline which takes around 42,000 calls a year.
- The charity is independent and evidence-based, with a robust governance process in place to ensure the industry has absolutely no input or influence on our work.
- Gambling harms can affect anyone, and not just those who gamble, but also their families and communities. These harms particularly affect communities that already face inequality.
- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 18,305 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st October - 22nd November 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
- ‘PGSI’ stands for the ‘Problem Gambling Severity Index’ and is a standardised measure of gambling harm, where a higher score indicates higher levels of harm.
- An adult experiencing significant harm from their gambling is defined as a “problem gambler” (PGSI score of 8+) on the PGSI scale.