People with Gambling Problems are Making a Massive Contribution to Gambling Profits

Written by Professor Jim Orford on .

The Channel 4 Dispatches TV programme shown on 6th August included a first public airing of some alarming figures about the amounts of money being spent on different forms of gambling by people with gambling problems. The figures were based on a peer-reviewed paper accepted for publication in the academic journal International Gambling Studies. The authors of the paper are Jim Orford, Heather Wardle and Mark Griffiths. The paper reports secondary analysis of data from the 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey. Responses to questions about frequency of gambling and average monthly spend on different forms of gambling were used to derive estimates of the percentage of all spend attributable to people with gambling problems. Estimates were calculated in two different ways and two different problem gambling screens (DSM-IV and PGSI) were used, yielding four separate estimates in all. These were averaged to produce one ‘best estimate’ of the percentage of all losses coming from the pockets of people with gambling problems. Although these estimates must be treated as approximations only, they are likely to be of the right order. This is the first time such estimates have been calculated for Britain and they suggest that people with gambling problems are making a huge contribution to total gambling spend, particularly in the cases of certain forms of gambling.

What the Dispatches team then did was to combine those estimates with the total net takings (Gross Gambling Yield) from some of the major forms of British gambling (figures available from the Gambling Commission) in order to arrive at estimates of the total amounts of money being taken annually from people with gambling problems. The figures are startling. Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs or B2 machines) may be costing people with gambling problems in the region of a quarter of a billion pounds a year! (23% of the gross gambling yield £1,295m). Other forms of gambling which appear to take in the region of £50m to £75m annually from people with gambling problems include table games in casinos, betting on dog races, betting on horse races, and slot machines in arcades.

  GGY
£m
% of losses
from PGPs
amount of losses
from PGPs £m
FOBTs in betting shops 1,295 23 297
Table games in casinos 685 11 76
Betting on dog races 275 27 75
Betting on horse races 810 7 57
Slot machines in arcades 396 12 47
Football pools 324 6 18
Bingo 386 4 16

(GGY – Gross gambling yield; PGPs – People with gambling problems)

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016
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