Campaign response to the IPPR evaluation of the economic cost of problem gambling to the UK economy

Posted On: 
12th December 2016

Following the publication of new research estimating that the cost of problem gambling to the UK economy could be up to £1.2 billion per year, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling has issued the following statement:

“Whilst the research published today by Gamble Aware provides a low and high estimate of impact on the UK economy from those who are at the extreme of pathological problem gambling, it fails to estimate the cost of those at low to moderate risk of problem gambling –people who have periods of binge gambling.

This report estimates those at the extremes account for up to 1.1% of the population, but it ignores those determined as “at risk” who, according to the last combined Health Survey analysis, represented up to 4.2% of the population – four times that of pathological problem gamblers.

It is therefore inevitable that these figures are a substantial under-estimate and with wider economic costs on employers and families not considered, the true cost could be in the multiple billions.

This research has effectively pin pointed the betting shop demographic and those who use FOBTs as those most likely to develop gambling problems, describing young males aged 16-24 at high risk and “higher in those who are unemployed, homeless, black and Asian.”

Given that FOBTs have become known as the “crack cocaine of gambling” with annual losses of £1.75 billion and evidence that they are the most addictive gambling product in the UK, many people will now be asking the question, just how much are these machines costing the economy and how does Gamble Aware justify its meagre “aim to raise a minimum of £10 million each year in voluntary contributions from the gambling industry”?

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling will be providing a robust review of this research in due course.