People in the most deprived areas of Britain are more than twice as likely to participate in online gambling as those in the least deprived areas, according to a study.
The Patterns of Play (pdf) report released on Thursday found that 29.2% of gambling accounts came from the top 20% of Britain’s most deprived areas, while just 12.9% of accounts came from the top 20% of areas the least disadvantaged.
Although players from more disadvantaged areas tended to play with a lower stake, they had “a strong tendency” to be more active than those from less disadvantaged areas, according to the data.
Analyzing the operators’ gross gaming return (GGY), the study found that the former contributed more than a quarter (25.2%) of all customer losses, compared to 15% for the latter.
The “first of its kind” study, by the National Center for Social Research (NatCen) and University of Liverpool professors David Forrest and Ian McHale, analyzed data from 139,152 online gambling accounts provided by seven major operators between July 2018 and June 2019. .
It includes both gaming accounts such as bingo, poker, slots and live and virtual casino games, as well as online betting on events such as football matches and horse races. horses.
The bottom 20% of areas were the most overrepresented in the generally inexpensive game of bingo, providing 39% of players. The game was also popular among women, who made up 62% of online gamers. But women were not as interested in casino and poker games, which accounted for less than a quarter of female players.
“The concentration of players in disadvantaged areas was also particularly high for female slot machine players. The most deprived areas contributed disproportionately to the GGY of bingo and slots, but in casino games and poker income was fairly evenly distributed across the deprivation range,” the study states.
He also said that although betting, mainly on sports such as football and horse racing, was the most popular, gambling was associated with a higher likelihood of suffering heavy losses.
Online betting relied heavily on a small number of bettors, with the top 10% of gaming accounts contributing 79% of the operator’s revenue.
Data showed that areas of different levels of deprivation contributed ‘relatively equally’ to operators’ income from betting, with online betting outside of football and horse racing being ‘particularly biased towards the most deprived areas (although levels of engagement were generally low)”.
The study indicates that the online bettors who suffered the biggest losses during the year were disproportionately likely to be men and that their average age was around 40 years old, with a significant number of addresses in disadvantaged areas, but the researchers said they could be wealthier individuals in more deprived areas.
Over the year, around 290,000 accounts lost over £2,000 in bets, but this only represents 2.2% of accounts. It was also estimated that 4.4% of accounts lost more than £1,000 during the year and 0.7% lost more than £5,000.
Forrest, who led the analysis of the account data, said, “This study provides us with a globally unprecedented opportunity to understand the online gaming landscape. Unlike betting, we find that customer participation and losses in gaming were concentrated in the most deprived areas and that a higher proportion of customers suffered losses of several thousand pounds over the course of the year.
“While political debate and campaigns have focused on the risks associated with betting, our research shows that it is important to raise awareness of the gambling harms associated with online gambling. , are much larger in terms of total online spending by UK gamers, and analysis of customer account data reveals more red flags indicating the potential harm of gambling.”