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The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has sounded an alarm over the misuse of gambling statistics by stakeholders, calling for responsible data presentation to maintain debate integrity.
Amidst the evolving discussions on gambling regulations, the UKGC has expressed deep concerns about the manipulation of statistics to bolster arguments. This trend has been observed across the board, involving gambling operators, the media, and other parties, often accompanied by confusion between “problem gambling” and “gambling-related harm.”
A key concern centers on distorted problem gambling statistics. Claims like “99.7 percent of gamblers are unhurt” and “only 0.3 percent are harmed” are misleading. The 0.3 percent figure refers to the UKGC’s abbreviated Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) screen, which has fluctuated between 0.2 and 0.6 percent of individuals aged 16 or older experiencing problem gambling.
The misconception stems from assuming this percentage pertains solely to gamblers, when it includes all adults in Great Britain. Health Survey for England 2021 data shows that among those aged 16 and over who gambled in the past year, 0.8 percent experienced problem gambling by PGSI or DSM-IV criteria.
Misleading notions about low-risk gambling forms are also addressed. The UKGC clarifies that problem gambling rates vary significantly by activity, ranging from 0.9 percent for National Lottery players to 8.5 percent for online slots, live casinos, or bingo participants.
Inaccuracies are noted in comparative analyses due to pandemic-induced data collection limitations or changes in survey methods. The UKGC emphasizes cautious interpretation.
The complexity of gambling statistics underscores the issue. Despite an apparently low overall problem gambling rate relative to participation, the UKGC stresses the profound consequences for affected individuals and their communities.
To maintain discussion credibility and informed decisions, the UKGC urges stakeholders to use statistics responsibly, ensuring diligence, precision, and contextual understanding.