Problem gambling costs the UK a whopping £1.4bn annually

Brand-new research run by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has claimed that people who are experiencing problems gambling are costing the UK a massive £1.4 bn.

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This new research corresponds to the rising costs that are associated with gambling-related harms. While generally the costs are related to higher welfare payments, problem gamblers also require increasing healthcare costs, costs related to homelessness as well as criminal justice costs.

The new research also found that people going through problem gambling issues are more likely to need public services than persons who are at risk. The study also established that circa 380,000 persons experiencing problem gambling in the UK amount to 0.7% of the population.

This figure is much higher than the data used by the Betting and Gaming Council and the UK Gambling Commission, which stands at 0.2%. That said, the NIESR also said that the £1.4bn figure may be underestimated as it did not include other elements. These elements include the costs to affected others such as family and friends and social costs.

It has laid out three recommendations for the industry and key stakeholders. The initial step is for the government to acknowledge the financial expenses connected to problematic gambling in the forthcoming white paper that will review the Gambling Act 2005.

Furthermore, the UKGC should expand its responsibilities to include extensive data gathering, particularly regarding online gambling and the correlation between problem gambling and those affected by it.

Lastly, the organisation proposed that measurement tools for individuals undergoing harm from gambling be incorporated into the next iteration of the Wealth and Assets Survey.

The deputy director for public policy at the NIESR, Professor Adrian Pabst, said: “Our research provides an independent and impartial assessment of the burden to the exchequer that is associated with problem gambling – around 380,000 people suffering severe gambling-related harm at a minimum cost of £1.4bn per year.

Behind these numbers are the lives of many more people who are affected by problem gambling, including families and communities, especially those who are most economically and socially deprived.”

The main aim of the NIESR is to significantly improve the public understanding of complex issues such as gambling and to create revamped policies that improve people’s lives.

Our in-depth responsible gambling page contains advice and organisations that can help.