Latest UKGC gambling participation and PG statistics do not support calls for more robust regulatory controls

The Gambling Commission has today (27 July 2021) published its ‘findings from the quarterly telephone survey: Statistics on participation and problem gambling for the year to June 2021’.

These statistics look set to counter arguments being raised by those calling for considerably more robust regulatory controls to be imposed pursuant to the UK Government’s ongoing Review of the Gambling Act 2005 in order to tackle concerns around increased problem gambling rates arising from fears of increased gambling participation, showing as they do:

  • a 3.5 percentage point decline in overall participation in any gambling activity (in the last four weeks) compared with the year to June 2020
  • a 3 percentage point increase in online gambling participation (much of which is attributable to increasing proportions of respondents playing National Lottery draws online)
  • a “statistically stable” overall problem gambling rate (at 0.4%) and
  • a “significantly decreased” moderate risk rate (at 0.7% compared with 1.4% in the year to June 2020).

The Commission’s own summary reads as follows:


This statistical release covers the quarterly gambling participation and problem gambling prevalence data for the year to June 2021.

The data being released today is based on the Gambling Commission’s quarterly telephone survey conducted by Yonder Consulting. A nationally representative sample of 4,010 adults aged 16 and over were interviewed via telephone in September 2020, December 2020, March 2021 and June 2021. The majority of the data for year to June 2021 was collected during some element of lockdown or restricted activity level. Further details on the quarterly telephone survey methodology can be found on the front cover of the main publication.

Key facts

  • In year to June 2021, overall participation in any gambling activity (in the last four weeks) has fallen to 42% (a 3.5 percentage point decline compared to year to June 2020).
  • In year to June 2021, the online gambling participation rate is 25% (an increase of 3 percentage points on year to June 2020), whilst in person participation is down 8 percentage points to 24%. It should be noted that much of the online increase can be explained by increasing proportions of respondents playing National Lottery draws online.
  • The overall problem gambling rate is statistically stable at 0.4% (year to June 2021).
  • The moderate risk rate has decreased significantly to 0.7% (year to June 2021) compared to 1.4% in year to June 2020.
You can download below the Gambling Commission’s supporting survey data on gambling participation.

UPDATE: A rather less positive view of the latest statistics has been taken by Anna Hemmings, Chief Executive of GamCare, who is quoted in SBC News as saying:
Online gambling is a growing issue for callers to the National Gambling Helpline and we want people to know we are here for them and can help. The majority of people contacting us are gambling online and our helpline and treatment data shows this to be an area of concern for us and people that use our services. We know that people recovering from gambling harms can find it difficult to enjoy live sport. Today’s figures do not cover the most recent Euro’s tournament, so we will continue to monitor for a potential rise in callers over the next few months, with many upcoming sports events over the summer and the reopening of betting shops and casinos, coupled with the difficulties people have experienced in the pandemic.

NOTE: It is worth noting that, on 7 June 2021, answering a parliamentary question posed by the Lord Bishop of St Albans enquiring “what assessment [the Government has] made of the reported correlation between higher rates of gambling and COVID-19 lockdowns”, Baroness Barran (DCMS Parliamentary Under-Secretary) said:

Overall participation in gambling has declined over the period of COVID-19 lockdowns in Great Britain, largely due to the closure of land-based gambling for much of the past year. The Gambling Commission’s latest official statistics show the proportion of respondents participating in any gambling in the past four weeks fell from 46.7% in the year to March 2020 to 40.0% in the year to March 2021. As in the study by Professor Emond et al., the Commission data indicates a small increase in online gambling participation. The government continues to monitor the situation and consider the evidence carefully.