UKGC: gambling participation remains lower than pre-COVID levels


In the year to September 2022, overall participation in any gambling activity and headline problem gambling rates have remained statistically stable, reported the UK Gambling Commission.

This latest set of data, based on a quarterly UKGC telephone survey conducted by Yonder Consulting of 4,018 applicants, highlights that the general problem gambling rate has remained consistent year-on-year, during the period to September, at 0.3 per cent.

The survey’s breakdown of problem gambling participation indicated a 0.4 per cent (2021: 0.3 per cent) and 0.1 per cent (2021: 0.2 per cent) split between males and females.

Participation among those between the ages of 16-24 was marked as the most vulnerable group via a sharp rise to 1.4 per cent, up from 0.4 per cent year-on-year, with all others remaining stable or recording declines.

On moderate risk gambling rates, an increase to 1.1 per cent from 0.7 per cent in the year to September 2021 is recorded, with the figure for males, who made up 2,117 of respondents, remaining at 0.9 per cent, as that for females more than doubled among the 1,901 participating to 1.2 per cent (0.5 per cent).

Mirroring those prior figures, 16-24-year olds registered a significant rise to 2.9 per cent (2021: 1 per cent), with all age brackets, except that of 45-54 year-olds which dropped to 0.3 per cent (2021: 0.9 per cent), tracking increases.

Low risk rate declined from 1.9 to 1.8 per cent YoY, with the 16-24, 35-44, 45-54 and over 65 age ranges all reporting increases. The 25-34 and 55-64 years tracked declines to 2.4 per cent (2021: 3.8 per cent) and 0.9 per cent (2021: 1.8 per cent), respectively.

In year to September 2022, overall participation in any gambling activity during the past four weeks is said to have “remained statistically stable” at 44.1 per cent (2021: 42 per cent). Increases across males, to 45.8 per cent (2021: 43.6 per cent), and females, which hit 42.4 per cent (2021: 40.5 per cent), were documented.

“The proportion of people gambling online has significantly increased in this latest data release compared to the previous year, with the long-term trend continuing to show steady growth, like many other sectors,” the regulator noted. 

“Growth has been seen particularly for National Lottery draws and online slots and/or instant win games.”

The online gambling participation rate, for those having performed at least one activity in the past four weeks, is reported as having “significantly increased” to 27 per cent (2021: 25 per cent), in what the UKGC added as “continuing its long-term trend”.

Moreover, this viewpoint is also reflected in the in-person statistics, which demonstrate a YoY overall uptick to 26.6 per cent (23.9 per cent), although the UKGC did note that this figure “ remains below the pre-pandemic level” (2019: 34.9 per cent).

“Latest data for 2022 indicates that people are starting to return to in-person activities including bingo, horse races and dog racing, however, current in-person participation rates remain below pre-pandemic levels,” the UKGC concluded. 

“There have been differences observed by age group in terms of those returning to in-person activities, with the in-person participation rate for 16 to 24 year olds closest to their pre-pandemic rate.”