Gambling prevalence study – December 2020

By Carl Shoben, Director of Strategic Communications, Survation 


Survation has been working with the Clean Up Gambling campaign since the start of the pandemic to research attitudes and behaviours on gambling. 


Clean Up Gambling recently commissioned Survation to carry out an addiction prevalence survey, using the same methodology that the Gambling Commission uses to detect and monitor the triggers and prevalence in wider society for problem gambling. 


Survation asked a national representative sample of 2000 people, the same questions that are asked by the Gambling Commission, and we asked the representative sample (whether gamblers or not, mild or heavier), and weighted it according to standard age, sex, region, income, education and past voting behaviours. 


This study requires careful analysis and consideration,  although it must be stated that it is only one survey. There should be follow up research given the pointers there is clear risk of addictive behaviours on a potentially wider scale than has been generally understood.


Survation used the industry recognised scoring method: 


never (score: 0)

rarely (score: 1)

sometimes (score: 1)

often (score: 2)

always (score: 3)


Then the scores are added at end to get a total which equates to


Non-problem gambler – Score: 0


Low-risk gambler – Score: 1–2


Moderate-risk gambler – Score: 3–7


Problem gambler – Score: 8 or above


As already stated, it is only one survey, and on the assessment on past behaviours, it asked respondents for recall from the past, which we know isn’t as accurate as tracking behaviours in the present, and over a longer period of time.


The main summary results were as follows: 


Now and during previous Covid lockdown/restrictions


Non problem – 60%

Low risk – 10%

Moderate risk – 10%

Problem gambler – 19%


This time last year, pre COVID

Non problem –  64%

Low risk – 10%

Moderate risk – 8%

Problem gambler – 18%


At any time

Non problem –  63%

Low risk – 10%

Moderate risk – 9%

Problem gambler – 19%


Because asking respondents to recall past behaviour is less accurate than asking for present behaviours we should set more store on the data for now and during COVID restrictions. However, it is worth noting that there is a decrease by 4% of people who prior to COVID were non gamblers but are now in one of the risk categories. 


It is worth further investigation into whether there is a COVID context maybe knock-on effect which is increasing the prevalence of gambling addictions. 


We can’t know from this survey alone the veracity or extent of gambling harms displayed by the 19% who come into the problem gambler category. However, this figure has been arrived at using industry recognised methodology, and it certainly requires further research. We can’t conclude this from the data, but the increased access to gambling via online platforms may be increasing risk factors and pulling more people from low or moderate risk to displaying more concerning behaviours.



Data tables

Clean Up Gambling – December 2020 v3 (1)



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