Britain's Gambling Population - Numbers Are Down, Concerns over P2P and Internet Are Up

7 April 2004

A survey commissioned by Britain's Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) found that the number of British citizens who have gambled within the last year has declined by 2 percent as compared to five years ago. Research group National Opinion Polls surveyed 2,945 U.K. residents from Feb. 5 to Feb. 17, 2004 to determine what types of gambling the population participates in, how regularly they gamble, what attitudes they have toward gambling and what sort of opinions they have about regulation.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said they had participated in some type of gambling within the last 12 months. That number represents a decline from 1999, when 73 percent of respondents of the British Gambling Prevalence Study said they had gambled within the last year. The figures indicate that fewer people are participating in most forms of gambling, with the exceptions of bingo and non-race events at bookmakers. The most noticeable declines are in scratch-card, lotteries, fruit machines and football pools betting.

Except for gambling on lotteries and bingo, more citizens reported to have an unfavorable attitude toward all forms of gambling than favorable attitudes toward them. Internet betting by far received the most negative rating and betting exchanges received the second worst rating.

A large number of people reported having no opinion on whether the different types of gaming required more government regulation. Fifty-eight percent reported to have no opinion on betting exchanges, probably indicating a lack of information. Most respondents reported that the regulation of lotteries scratch-cards, betting offices, on-course betting, and bingo was adequate. Respondents were least satisfied with the regulation of betting exchanges, fruit machines and Internet betting.

It's fair to say the numbers show that people generally believe that gambling regulation is about right, but tend to favor stricter controls for gambling over the Internet and on fruit machines.

Andrew McIntosh, England's minister for gambling, seemed pleased by the results and believes they justify the updating of the country's gaming law.

"This survey is a valuable reflection of public opinion at a time when we are modernizing our out of date gambling laws," McIntosh said. "While the survey suggests that the number of people gambling has fallen slightly over the past five years it is still clear that some form of gambling, most commonly the National Lottery, remains something enjoyed by a majority of the public.

"I was particularly comforted to note that those surveyed saw gambling as an activity with some risks and were in favor of continuing with very careful regulation in the future. This matches the approach taken in the draft Bill which, by establishing the Gambling Commission, will create as comprehensive a system of control and regulation as exists anywhere in the world."

Parliament's Joint Scrutiny Committee, which has evaluated the draft gambling bill and heard evidence from a number of relevant parties that either support or oppose the new gaming laws, delivered its findings and suggestions to Parliament today. The government would like to have the new bill in effect by the end of 2006.

Click here to view the key findings DCMS's survey of participation in and attitudes toward gambling.

More in-depth results and statistics can be accessed from the DCMS site:

Bradley Vallerius

Articles by Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials. Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

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