With an estimated 250,000 gamblers, whose past time has become ‘problematic’, there was fear from regulatory and government bodies that with the introduction of various new mediums, including online casinos and poker rooms, that this figure would dramatically increase. However, and surprisingly for many, the percentage of people within the UK with a so called ‘gambling problem’ has in fact fallen from 72% in 1999 to 68% this year.
Although this figure does not show the entire picture, with the majority of this 4% change being directly attributed to a decline in players of the national lottery, it is indeed welcomed news for those who had expected a sharp rise.
This study, entitled the ‘Gambling Prevalence Study’ and conducted between September 2006 and March 2007, questioned approximately 9,000 adults in relation to a total of 17 different forms of gambling. Head of the study, Peter Dean, concluded that more than 99% of adult gamblers did not fall into this problem group and that overall, despite the introduction of new gambling methods, the number of people who regularly enjoyed a flutter had decreased.
So why are less people gambling, considering the relative ease with which you can now take part? Why has the advent of online gambling been apparently unable to entice more people into playing, and more often? Well, the truth of the matter is that they have succeeded in drawing gamblers into their virtual casinos. Other than a significant decrease in those playing the national lottery, every other form of gambling has seen a steady rise on the figures of 1999.
On the face of things this is not something to be too concerned about. In comparison to other countries around the globe the UK ranks amongst the likes of Canada and New Zealand, with gambling levels far lower than in the USA. It is also good news for the tax man, who made a staggering £2 Billion from gambling last year alone.
This probe was announced by Gordon Brown as a way in which the government could assess its plan of regenerating deprived and run-down areas with the introduction of super casinos, with the first to have been built in Manchester later this year. However, with the conclusion of this study and the findings which do show increased popularity for non-lottery based gambling, the government have decided against their super casino plans.
One spokesman for the Prime Minister went on record saying “While the report shows that problem gambling still only affects a small minority of people, it does remain a serious issue and something that has to be addressed. The prime minister said in July that the issue relating to a super-casino is whether or not this is the best way of meeting our regeneration objectives.”
The in depth findings of this report are due to be published very shortly and I am sure that the gaming industry, as well as other keen industry experts, will indeed be very interested in reviewing the conclusions of the gambling commission.