Research on the social impacts of gambling

Abstract

This study was undertaken through a review of the international research evidence, as well as relevant British research, on the social impacts of gambling and casinos. It also analysed fresh data from the 1999 Prevalence Survey of gambling in Great Britain to investigate patterns of gambling behaviour in Scotland. It is estimated that between 0.6% – 0.8% of the adult population in Britain are problem gamblers (between 275,000 and 370,000 people). The percentages of the population are similar for Scotland. Disadvantaged social groups who experience poverty, unemployment, dependence on welfare, and low levels of education and household income are most likely to suffer the adverse consequences of increased gambling. Within these groups, those who are male, single and under thirty five years of age are also more likely to be at risk from developing problems with their gambling. Although individuals from these groups may not spend more money on gambling in absolute terms, they do spend a higher proportion of their incomes than wealthier players. Availability and convenience are strongly associated with problem gambling. Electronic gaming machines (EGMs) that are located outside casinos and are widely dispersed throughout the community in bars, hotels and clubs can encourage impulsive gambling and are associated with the highest rates of problem gambling worldwide. Currently, around 3% of the British adult population gamble in casinos, although this is likely to increase as the effects of the new legislation come into force. Of these, between 5% – 8% are considered problem gamblers (i.e. less than a quarter of one per cent of the population). In Britain, there are two distinct groups who experience problems with casino gambling: single, retired males aged over forty, especially those who are of Chinese ethnicity, and single unemployed males under thirty.

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