The research from the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) with Professor David Forrest and Professor Ian McHale of the University of Liverpool examined 140,000 online betting and gaming accounts between July 2018 and June 2019.
The 140,000 accounts came from random samples from seven different operators. The seven operators involved hold 85% of British online betting market share and 37.5% in gaming.
The research found that while 85% betting accounts spent less than £200 on betting and 90% of gaming accounts had either an overall win or loss of less than £500, a small number of accounts were responsible for a very large portion of overall losses.
It said that 0.7% of accounts used for betting and 1.2% of gaming accounts lost £5,000 or more in the year and 4% of gaming accounts lost more than £500 in a single session. This, it said, would represent 60,000 betting accounts and 47,000 gaming accounts nationally.
Similarly, the 5% of accounts with the largest losses generated 70% of overall gross gambling yield (GGY) in the sample.
Among betting accounts, 0.1% lost £20,000 or more in the year and 0.2% between £10,000 and £20,000. A further 0.4% lost between £5,000 and £10,000. The 10% of betting customers with the highest stakes generated 79% of betting GGY.
While there was not a similar breakdown of extremely large losses for gaming customers, NatCen said that 0.3% of overall customers lost between £10,000 and £20,000; 0.1% lost between £20,000 and £50,000 and less than 0.1% lost more than £50,000. 20.5% of customers were net winners.
Of the total sample, 4% received some sort of social responsibility interaction, usually by email. This included 36% of customers who spend more than £2,000, with 0.8% of this group receiving a phone call because of social responsibility reasons.
While 94% of online betting GGY was from men and 6% women, 26% of gaming GGY came from women and 74% men. Accounts which spent more than £5,000 predominantly belonged to men, with the most common age category being in the player’s 40s.
Participation in online gambling was higher in more deprived areas than less deprived areas. However, gambling spend was similar across all deprivation levels.
Football and horse racing were by far the most popular sports for betting in terms of accounts playing bet and betting yield. The majority of gaming accounts and spend were focused on slots.
“This research was able to analyse and assess an unprecedented source of information on how people in Great Britain gamble and opens up numerous opportunities to further understand people’s gambling habits. These interim findings are just the first stage and future research will provide a greater opportunity to understand the risk factors associated with gambling behaviour.”
A spokesperson for the Betting and Gaming Council said that while the data was important, it reflected a time before the BGC was created in 2019. As a result, it said, the British gambling industry had improved its player safety measures significantly since the dates measured.
“The data in this report was collected before the BGC came into being and so does not take account of the work we have done to raise standards,” the spokesperson said. “This includes the whistle-to-whistle ban on TV betting commercials during live sport before the 9pm watershed, ensuring 20 per cent of all broadcast advertising is now safer gambling messages, significantly increasing funding for research, education and treatment, implementing a credit card ban (excluding National Lottery) and introducing a new games design code of conduct, which has led to the slowing down of spin speeds and the banning of several gaming features.
“This report acknowledges that technology now enables betting companies to see where customers are starting to display markers of harm, meaning those at risk are now subject to enhanced checks and interventions. It also shows that a large number of customers are taking advantage of safer gambling tools like setting deposit limits, which we encourage.
“None of these new changes apply to the unsafe, unregulated and growing online black market online, but the BGC will use the Government’s review of gambling to identify further best practice and changes going forward to ensure our work on promoting safer gambling continues.”