The new figures released by the Gambling Commission confirm that problem gambling rates have plummeted to 0.2% from the start of this year to March 2022.
Latest statistics have shown that the rate of problem gambling in the year to March 2022 was 0.2%, down from the 0.4% from the previous year, and down from 0.3% in the last published yearly figures in February 2022. Meanwhile, the rates of problem gambling among women have remained the same, and low, at 0.1%.
This is equivalent to 225,000 problem gamblers now dropping down to 113,000.
Although this data is good news, it is however set against the backdrop of increased use of black market sites in the UK, where British punters visiting and playing at unlicensed sites have more than doubled in just two years and the amount staked is now estimated to be in the billions of pounds.
A PwC report uncovered the shocking scale of that black market across European countries following the introduction of strict new measures on regulated operators.
Norway introduced a state monopoly for all gaming along with much wider restrictions. The black market there now accounts for over 66% of all money staked and the problem gambling rate is running at 1.4% of all adults. It is a very similar scenario in France, where online casino gaming was banned, now 57% of money staked there goes to black market operators. In France the problem gambling rate is running at 1.6% of all adults.
Most problem gamblers do not suffer from addiction. Gambling addiction requires a clinical assessment. The two are often conflated, but they are entirely different.
BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said: "These newly released figures are further evidence of that positive progress and underline our calls for ministers to take a genuinely evidence based approach to the upcoming White Paper and not pander to the anti-gambling lobby. Our initiatives have included using advertising to promote safer gambling tools like deposit limits and time-outs, investing more in research and treatment, changes to advertising, stronger protections for younger people and introducing tough new rules on VIP schemes.
"It also underlines the success of an increase in voluntary funding by the betting and gaming industry to support independent charities in delivering research, education and treatment (RET) for problem gamblers. Those that argue for a statutory levy want nothing more than a brand new tax on the industry which won't put an extra penny into RET, but it could hammer parts of the sector, in particular the land based casinos who are only just recovering from the pandemic, threatening jobs and businesses. It could also end up threatening the progress being made by established charities who are leading vitally important work on RET across the whole country, as borne out by the latest problem gambling figures.
These latest figures showing that problem gambling is falling once again will no doubt come as a profound disappointment to anti-gambling prohibitionists and it should be a warning to ministers to ensure future changes are carefully balanced, proportionate and targeted. Around 22.5m adults in the UK bet each month and it is clear once again that the overwhelming majority to so perfectly safely and responsibly. However our work to continue to raise standards across the regulated industry will continue to keep up the momentum and build on the progress we have made recent months and years.
The regulated betting and gaming industry is determined to promote safer gambling, unlike the unsafe, unregulated and growing online black market, which has none of the safeguards which are the norm among BGC members. Ministers should not drive customers into the arms of the black market by introducing intrusive personal checks for non-problem gamblers and those not at risk, or by taking away the offers that punters in a highly competitive market enjoy".
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), established in 2019, is a standards body committed to championing safer gambling. The council represents licensed betting shops, casinos and online gambling operators in the UK. Around 90% of betting companies fall under their jurisdiction and their goal is to champion industry standards to ensure a safer, fairer and more enjoyable betting experience for customers.