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GamCare data highlights UK’s online slots problem

| By Richard Mulligan
Three in five online gamblers seeking support in the UK last year identified online slots as a source of their concerns, data from GamCare shows.
GamCare data

The data, which was pulled from GamCare’s National Gambling Helpline, shows that slots continue to be the most common activity cited by those seeking help for problem gambling behaviours.

During 2022-23, some 60% of those who made contact with the helpline said that slots were one of the main activities causing concern. This was up one point on the previous year. The figure is almost double the 34% who mentioned online slots as recently as 2018-19.

The data was derived from the 5,660 people who contacted the helpline during 2022-23 and disclosed which type of gambling activity they struggled with. Some 73% of those indicated their concerns related to online gambling.

The government is consulting on the introduction of maximum stake limits for online slots as part of its review of the Gambling Act 2005. In July, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport requested evidence before a deadline of 4 October 2023, as it considers a stake limit of between £2 and £15 per spin and slot-specific measures to give greater protections.

“There is still a perception that gambling harm predominantly comes from betting on horses or sports events,” said Colin Walsh, lived experience manager at GamCare. “In the past five years, we have broadly seen a trend where people often start gambling on these activities but eventually transition into other areas of online gambling, where it can be easy to lose sight of how much time and money is being spent.”

Negative cycle

The number of those online gamblers seeking help with sports betting remained at 20%, which compares to 34% in 2018-19. The ‘other casino games’ segment was the third biggest at 15%, up slightly compared to 14% last year, but considerably down on the 39% recorded four years previously.

Walsh added: “The data highlights that it is now disproportionately online slots that are the main challenge for many people who call the National Gambling Helpline.

“I know from my own experience – and the experiences of those in my network – how difficult this form of gambling can be and how isolating it can feel if you find yourself caught in a negative cycle. But I also know that it is possible to get through it and that there is free help for anyone struggling with it.”

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