The City Law School’s Dr Margaret Carran points out divergences in data collection methodologies which make meaningful inter-jurisdictional comparison difficult.
A new exploratory study carried out by The City Law School’s Dr Margaret Carran on behalf of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) demonstrates a high level of diversity in how European countries measure gambling engagement and problem gambling prevalence within their jurisdictions.
Dr Carran’s study is titled, Consumer Protection in European Online Gambling Regulation: Monitoring Gambling Engagement and Problem Gambling Prevalence Within Selected European Jurisdictions.
The fact-finding exercise ascertains how European countries monitor gambling engagement and problem gambling prevalence within their jurisdictions. It explores whether and how often jurisdictions carry out systematic, national surveys of gambling engagement and of problem gambling prevalence, the type of instrument used to collect this data, and the screening measure used to assess levels of gambling disorder.
Gambling related harms
The study also attempts to determine whether jurisdictions have adopted their own definitions of gambling related harms and, if so, whether those have been adjusted to accommodate any cultural differences that may exist within any given jurisdiction and whether any country has formally adopted an official definition of problem gambling. Furthermore, the study also collected and presents the most recent data, when available, on overall gambling engagement and problem gambling prevalence.
The findings illustrate responses from 20 European countries that include 19 EU Member States and the United Kingdom. Data included in this report has been provided by the gambling authorities from all the included countries except for France. Responses from the national authorities were collected between the period of March 2021 and February 2022.
EGBA Secretary-General, Maarten Haijer, said:
“Our members are fully committed to promoting a stronger culture of safer gambling in Europe and through this study we aim to contribute positively to the understanding of problem gambling and its prevalence in Europe. The significant differences in the way in which problem gambling is monitored and reported in Europe clearly stands out from the study. A shift towards a more common and regular monitoring and reporting framework for problem gambling would benefit all gambling sector stakeholders and support more effective and evidence-based prevention policies.”
The main findings from the study are as follows:
- Data about gambling engagement and problem gambling prevalence levels are collected through regular, systematic, and nationally sponsored surveys in 12 jurisdictions (Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Malta, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom). National surveys are also carried out in other countries but not necessarily in a prescribed or regular manner. Such surveys are carried out in Belgium, Ireland, Italy, and Latvia;
- Regular national regular surveys are carried out at various intervals. The most frequent surveys are carried out in the UK (quarterly) and in Czech Republic (annually) while Denmark has the longest interval of 5 years;
- National surveys are administered using various methods. Gambling prevalence surveys or population-based gambling surveys are used in 7 jurisdictions (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Malta, the Netherlands, and Sweden) while Health Surveys are the preferred vehicle in France, Sweden, and the UK. In Great Britain, the results from the Health Surveys are supplemented with results of quarterly telephone surveys carried out by the Gambling Commission. Czech Republic and Spain ask gambling-related questions in their broader health and lifestyle surveys;
- The age range of surveyed population vary across jurisdictions. The minimum age to participate in the ‘adult’ surveys are 15 years old in Czech Republic, Finland and Spain, 16 years old in the UK and 18 years old in France, Greece, Italy, and Malta. The maximum age for inclusion is 64 years old in Spain, 74 years old in Finland and 75 years old in France. There is no upper limit in Italy and Malta;
- Three countries (Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia) estimate gambling engagement and problem gambling prevalence levels through reference to the number of registered players and through the number of players on the self-exclusion registers;
- Levels of problem gambling are estimated from the surveys using a variety of screening tools. 4 jurisdictions (Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, the UK) use two screening tools with reference to the same survey. The most common screening tool is PGSI and has been adopted in 9 countries (Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Sweden, the UK). Other screening tools used include NODS (Cyprus, Denmark), SOGS (Finland, the Netherlands), DSM-V – Belgium; DSM-IV – UK; GSI (abbreviated version) (Sweden); Lie/Bet Screen (Czech Republic), and a bespoke tool (Malta);
- Problem gambling is typically defined by reference to either IDC-10 or DSM criteria, or both;
- The only country with statutory list of gambling–related harm is Finland. However, all other countries reported high level of awareness of gambling–related harms among all relevant stakeholders;
- Reported gambling engagement for the period between 2015 – 2020 range from 32.9% (Czech Republic in 2016, including lotteries) to 80% (Finland in 2015, including lotteries);
- Reported levels of problem gambling range from 0.3% (Ireland in 2019/2020) to 6.4% (Latvia in 2019);
- Existing divergences in survey methodologies, screening tools, survey timings and target age ranges make any meaningful comparisons between jurisdictions very difficult. Such comparisons would only be feasible after standardisation exercises but those are time consuming and expensive. As such this report recommends the creation of pan-European, multi-jurisdictional gambling and problem gambling prevalence survey that would target adult population across all European countries. Such survey would need to adopt a common methodology that would be utilised in all jurisdictions at the same time and should be carried out with consistent intervals. It would enable meaningful comparisons and assessments of trends across Europe and through various changes of regulatory frameworks.
Dr Carran will present the findings of the study in a webinar on Tuesday 10th May (11.00-12.00 CEST). Please register here to attend.