A follow-up survey of bookmaker loyalty card holders has examined the changing behaviours of the same customers two years after the first survey by independent research company NatCen.
This latest study is based on information supplied by betting shops and allows a greater insight into gambling behaviours and how responsible gambling measures should be targeted.
The study acknowledges that ‘41% of baseline problem gamblers decreased their PGSI scores so that they were no longer classified as problem gamblers at follow-up.’ (p.20) This is good news and suggests that the numerous measures that the industry now has in place to deal with problem gambling are working.
These measures include a new Player Awareness System that tracks loyalty card play to spot potential problems and enable staff to intervene early.
There are also mandatory time and spend alerts, responsible gambling messaging on gaming machines for at least 25% of the time, the ability for players to set their own money and time limits on machines, as well as no advertising of gaming machines and no ATMs in betting shops.
As an industry, we are committed to helping the very small number of customers for whom gambling has become a problem.
This study was based on people who hold loyalty cards because they enjoy a regular flutter at our betting shops.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that they gamble more often than other customers.
The study also makes clear that its findings are confined to loyalty card holders and that the nature of the sample makes it impossible to tell whether a broader sample of individuals whose gambling activities did not include machine play would show similar results.
This is a positive step towards better understanding the problem gambling behaviour of these customers. While the study finds a notable reduction (75% to 65%, p.10) in participation on machines in bookmakers, it also finds that some forms of gambling have become more popular such as gambling online on casino and slot games.
The study also highlights the challenge of tackling problem gambling but encouragingly shows that two out every five problem gamblers in 2014 were now classified as lower risk or non-problem gamblers.
Furthermore, the incidence of problem gambling in the most deprived areas saw an overall decline.
There are some important areas for bookmakers to focus on and we note the study shows that those from low-incomes or non-white backgrounds were more likely to become problem gamblers.
We will carefully consider what more can be done to target preventive action at these groups.
We are also happy to consider any proposals focusing on dealing with perceived problem gamblers among specific communities. Last month saw the launch of the first ever Gamble Aware week in London’s Chinatown.
Britain’s bookmakers are committed to helping identify problem gamblers so that they can get the help they need.
The gambling industry employs 43,000 people and contributes over £1bn in tax to the UK economy.
Download the report here.