GB gambling participation and at-risk population both fall in 2021

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Participation in gambling in Great Britain dropped to 41.6% in June 2021, while those at risk of gambling-related harm also declined, according to the Gambling Commission’s latest participation and problem gambling survey.

Overall participation in gambling during the four weeks prior to the survey in June fell to just 41.6%. This was a 3.5 percentage point decline from June 2020, when rates were low because of retail closures. The total was also slightly below the figure from the last time the survey was taken, in December 2020.

Gambling rates were down across all age and gender categories, though in some the declines were too small to be statistically significant.

When excluding the National Lottery, the total portion of people gambling during the four-week period was 28.3%, down from 30.5% in June 2020.

The decline was mostly due to a drop in retail gambling, as the portion gambling online increased year-on-year from 16.8% to 17.6%. Retail gambling plummeted from 31.8% to 24.1%, having been at 34.9% in 2019.

The regulator noted that a large portion of the increase in online gambling and the sharp drop in retail was due to a larger portion of lottery players moving online. The National Lottery was the only vertical to see a statistically significant growth in online play – from 11.4% to 13.8% – while the portion of the population who bought tickets in person fell from 19.9% to 14.7%.

The National Lottery remained by far the most popular form of gambling, with 26.3% of respondents reporting buying tickets. This was down from 2019 and 2020, but slightly ahead of 2018’s levels. Levels of scratchcard play also declined, to 7.4%, while the portion of players playing charitable lotteries remained roughly stable at 12.1%.

Sports betting, at 5.5%, horse race betting, at 3.2% online slots at 3.7% and casino games at 1.1% also saw levels of play remain steady, while bingo play declined.

Looking only at in-person gambling though, declines occurred in every vertical where at least 0.5% of the population reported taking part. The amount of people taking part in in-person sports betting fell from 2.5% in 2019 to 0.8% in 2021.

The Gambling Commission also took further statistics about problem gambling rates. Much like December 2020’s survey, the portion of problem gamblers recorded – 0.4% – was lower in this year’s survey than the previous edition, but the Commission said the change was too small to be statistically significant.

However, the portion of people who were assessed as being at medium risk of gambling harm did decline at a statistically significant level, from 1.4% to 0.7%, with the sharpest decline among young people.

The portion at low risk was also lower in 2021 than 2020, but again the regulator said the decline was not statistically significant.

As a result, the combined percentage assessed as being at some level of risk was down from 4.2% in 2020 to 3.1% in 2021.

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