Gambling industry hits back at reports of '˜Â£1.2 billion cost to economy'

A new study estimating that problem gamblers cost the Government up to £1.2 billion each year fails to take binge gamblers into account, the Campaign For Fairer Gambling has said in a statement.

Problem gambling costs £1.2 billion per year, according to GambleAware.
Problem gambling costs £1.2 billion per year, according to GambleAware.

The study, commissioned by the charity GambleAware and carried out by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) charts the costs associated with problem gambling, such as mental health services, police intervention and homelessness.

It comes at a time when the gambling industry is facing increased scrutiny, including a government review of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which have been dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling” due to their addictiveness.

In its statement, the Campaign For Fairer Gambling said: “Whilst the research published today by Gamble Aware provides a low and high estimate of impact on the UK economy from those who are at the extreme of pathological problem gambling, it fails to estimate the cost of those at low to moderate risk of problem gambling – people who have periods of binge gambling.

“This report estimates those at the extremes account for up to 1.1% of the population, but it ignores those determined as “at risk” who, according to the last combined Health Survey analysis, represented up to 4.2% of the population – four times that of pathological problem gamblers.

“It is therefore inevitable that these figures are a substantial under-estimate and with wider economic costs on employers and families not considered, the true cost could be in the multiple billions.

“This research has effectively pinpointed the betting shop demographic and those who use FOBTs as those most likely to develop gambling problems, describing young males aged 16-24 at high risk and ‘higher in those who are unemployed, homeless, black and Asian’.”

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling will be providing a robust review of the IPPR’s research in due course.