GC launches consultation to overhaul problem gambling research

| By Robert Fletcher
The GB Gambling Commission has launched a new consultation into the research methodology it uses to collect data on both gambling participation and problem gambling among players in Great Britain.
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Scheduled to run until 12 February, the consultation aims to help the regulator identify potential changes its current approach to ensure its research is accurate and relevant.

The Commission said it is seeking responses from licensees, consumers and consumer interest groups, charities, academics, and organisations with an interest in gambling research and regulation.

The core proposal set out in the consultation document is replace the health, telephone and online surveys with a single methodology that the Commission said would be more efficient, cost effective and timely.

“We believe that a new approach will enable us to set the standard for authoritative research into gambling,” the Commission said.

Expanding on this, the Commission said it had identified a number of criteria that a new ‘gold standard’ approach needs to enable.

These, it said, include the ability to consolidate questions on gambling participation and prevalence into a single survey, as well as to use a broader criteria to gather responses from a wider demographic.

The Commission would like the ability to change content in the questionnaire to keep up with markets trends, it added, and ensure the data collected represents the whole British population in England, Scotland and Wales.

With greater control over the survey, it would be able to publish annual problem gambling statistics for the market. It also aims to conduct fieldwork in order to release updated stats on a regular basis.

In addition, the Commission said that the new research would be conducted by a highly reputable provider that follows relevant research industry standards and operates in line with official statistics production requirements.

However, the regulator also noted that should it push ahead with changes to its research methods, it could make use of existing general population surveys, or commissionin a new survey built specifically for the regulator.

“It is important to emphasise that whatever option is chosen, ensuring objectivity and transparency in data collection and reporting would be of great importance to us,” the Commission said.

“The Commission, and our lead government department, DCMS, are designated to produce official statistics and we are bound by the principles in the Code of Practice around trustworthiness, quality and value.

“In addition to this, we would seek advice on methodology and questionnaire design from independent research experts and would publish full details of our survey design, response rates and quality assurance processes.”

The consultation comes after the UK government last month launched a review of the 2005 Gambling Act, with stake limits, the role of the Commission and new advertising restrictions among the major factors being considered.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm welcomed the review, with vice-chair Ronnie Cowan singling out changes to research as one of the legislative changes he hoped to see come out of the review.

Meanwhile, the Commission has issued a reminder to licensed operators and all third parties supplying services that it does not endorse or support external accreditation standards as a way of achieving compliance with its own Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP)

The Commission said its focus is on compliance with the LCCP, rather than the means by which this is achieved.

“We will not, as a matter of routine, provide comment on such external accreditation standards,” the regulator said.

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