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30th March 2021: GambleAware has today published its annual GB Treatment and Support survey, using data collected by YouGov. Commissioned by GambleAware, the report explores the usage of treatment and support services among gamblers, and those affected by another’s gambling. The report follows GambleAware’s first annual study of this kind, conducted in 2019.

The research found a statistically significant increase in ‘problem gamblers’ (PGSI 8+) saying they have used any form of treatment, advice or support in the past 12 months, with more than six in ten (63%) reporting they had, compared to just over half (54%) in the 2019 study.

Based on the 2020 YouGov survey, prevalence figures report 2.4% of adults to be ‘problem gamblers’ (PGSI 8+). The research used a larger sample size[1] than the 2019 study in order to better assess prevalence according to age, gender, UK region, socio-economic and ethnic group. An upcoming, independent methodologies review due to be published in April will further refine these results and provide greater clarity around the prevalence of problem gambling in Great Britain.

The GB Treatment and Support survey reported increased usage of treatment among ‘problem gamblers’ (PGSI 8+), rising from 43% to 53% between surveys. This increase was driven by reported use of mental health services rising significantly from 12% to 19%. There was also an increase in reported usage of advice and support, rising from 39% to 48%, driven in part by the use of self-help apps or tools, including self-exclusion technology, which 14% reported using, up from 9% in 2019.

The report included research into treatment, advice and support delivered remotely, which are of key importance during the ongoing pandemic. The results found that for ‘gamblers’ (PGSI 1+) who said they had accessed remote treatment, advice or support in the past 12 months, most felt it was 

better than (44%) or about the same (38%) as accessing this in a face-to-face setting. Common reasons for saying that accessing it remotely was better than face-to-face included:

  • Discretion[1] (33%)
  • Convenience and personal preference for online/remote appointments (both 32%)
  • Finding sessions less embarrassing or overwhelming (both 27%).

Among ‘problem gamblers’ (PGSI 8+) who have not accessed treatment, advice or support remotely (including those who have not accessed it at all), one in six (18%) felt that the quality of remote or online support would be worse for reasons such as lack of eye contact or being unable to read body language. Further, 16% of ‘problem gamblers’ (PGSI 8+) reported they did not have a private space to engage in their treatment, and a similar amount (14%) reported that sharing their devices with other people in their home would make accessing remote support difficult. 

Barriers to seeking treatment, advice or support for ‘problem gamblers’ (PGSI 8+) included concern around stigma (22% of those who would not want any treatment/support) and the perception that treatment, advice or support would be inaccessible (15%). Among ‘gamblers’ (PGSI 1+), the most significant barrier to seeking support, treatment or advice was reported to be denial, for example not considering their gambling to be ‘risky’. In 2019, 45% of gamblers (PGSI 1+) reported denial to be a barrier to treatment. This fell to 36% in the 2020 survey.

The research found that over half (59%) of ‘problem gamblers’ (PGSI 8+) reported wanting some form of treatment, advice, or support. This figure includes gamblers who have already accessed treatment, support or advice, meaning that there is some overlap between usage and reported demand.

The research also revealed key motivations in seeking treatment among this group (PGSI 8+). This includes those who had already accessed some form of treatment, support or advice in the last 12 months, as well as those who had not. These motivations included:

  • Knowing support was available via a particular channel (29%)
  • Awareness of the ease of accessing support (22%)
  • Confirmation that treatment and support would be confidential (16%)

Zoë Osmond, CEO of GambleAware, said: “It is encouraging to see a year-on-year increase in those classified as ‘problem gamblers’ seeking help, especially during the pandemic. These results will be used to help inform GambleAware’s new commissioning strategy as we continue our work to increase provision of and access to services.

“The significantly increased sample will allow GambleAware to better tailor existing support services according to local need and allow us to better support local authorities and health commissioners.”