New UKGC survey reveals one in six Brits gambled online last year
The UK Gambling Commission’s latest gambling participation survey revealed that one in six British adults gambled online last year.
The survey also demonstrated that 48% of respondents aged 16 years or older had engaged in at least one form of gambling in 2016.
Roughly 17% claimed to have gambled online with the rise of the 2015 figure of 15% largely attributed to the fact that both Euros and the Summer Olympics took place last year.
While laptops remain the online gamblers’ preferred device, figures for both laptop and PC use were down. Mobile phones, on the other hand, rose six percentage points to 29%, while tablets were up five points to 21%.
The survey further revealed that 97% of online gamblers prefer to wager at home, while stats for in-play betting remained stable at 26%.
The UKGC also remarked that, on average, online gamblers have three different accounts with gambling companies. Furthermore, 11% of respondents report having over five such accounts.
A million self-exclusions
The UKGC also revealed that as many a million gamblers requested some for of self-exclusion, from online gambling websites and betting shops, in 2016. Campaigners have sounded the alarm on problem gambling, reporting that cases of gambling addiction had reached shocking levels over recent years.
Compulsive gamblers are given the opportunity to prevent themselves accessing their gambling accounts via self-exclusion tools available on casino websites. The period of self-exclusion can range from six months to an indefinite ban. A comparison of year-on-year UKGC figures shows an alarming increase in the use of self-exclusion tools. In 2013, around 30,000 players made use of the technology. In 2016, that number reached a million players.
The majority of self-exclusion happened at online gambling sites, with 95% of instances taking place at online casinos. On average, each player who self-excluded did so at two different casinos.
Campaigners have argued that online gamblers have much easier access to these self-exclusion tools than do gamblers who visit land-based betting shops and casinos. Because self-exclusion prevents the player from depositing to their account, campaigners say it is much harder for a player to get around the exclusion. No such restrictions take place when using cash in a betting shop, which relies on employees recognising punters in order for the exclusion to be effective.
Campaigners have also raised the issue of conflict of interest. Betting shops rely on serial gamblers to make a profit and so, critics say, have little interest in making sure those gamblers do not access their services.
Players have also called for a more robust and all-encompassing system of self-exclusion. They say it is too easy to circumvent exclusion in betting shops and compulsive gamblers often struggle with having to self-exclude from multiple casinos, which each require them to fill in a separate form. Players are arguing that removing such obstacles will benefit those who struggle to stay in control of their gambling.