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  • 14th Aug 2023

Moving to scale: highlights from year 2 of the gambling unit, and looking ahead to year 3

The past 12 months have seen big changes in the UK gambling space. The release of the white paper, of course, but also the largest fine for a gambling operator, partly for failing to protect those who gamble from harm. The end of these 12 months also marks the end of the 2nd of our 4 year programme at the Gambling Policy & Research Unit. In this blog, we present highlights from our work for the year, as selected by the team. We also set out our plans for the next year, where we aim to take our work to scale. 

The year in numbers: a quick overview of what we have produced this year 

This year we delivered/attended: 

  • 3 online experiments
  • 10 qualitative pieces of work, including interviews and co-design workshops
  • 4 rapid evidence reviews – soon to be shared publicly
  • 4 newsletters and 5 blogs to share our work with stakeholders and the public
  • 13 events 

Our highlights from year 2: personal reflections from the team 

Nida Broughton  

“My personal highlight has to be writing a discussion paper on behavioural market design. It’s rare to be able to take a step back and think about market functioning as a whole. Being able to speak about this at the House of Lords and potentially drive systemic change is really exciting! I’m looking forward to the discussions it sparks in year 3.” 

Aisling Ní Chonaire

“I was so happy to see the release of the white paper this year and seeing our work referenced throughout was incredible. I’m so pleased that the work we’ve done will inform future changes to the online choice architecture of operator sites.”


Esther Hadman 

“The evidence review inspired by our partnership with TalkBanStop was one of my favourite pieces of work this year, looking at how behavioural insights can increase the uptake of remote gambling support and treatment. It was the perfect example of the team’s ability to produce high impact, relevant content quickly and easily, which a range of organisations have benefitted from. We plan to do plenty more of these, aligned with topics identified in the white paper.”

Lauren Leak-Smith

“One of the great things about the GPRU is that we’re able to use novel techniques to identify harm from gambling and, hopefully, drive real impact. We conducted a content analysis of 100 real online slot game adverts. This is one of only a few studies of its kind in the gambling space. We’re just wrapping up results now, but we are hoping they will make a strong case for reform”.

Eleanor Collerton 

“This year, we really stepped up our focus on including the voice of lived experience of gambling harm in our research. We’ve engaged people with lived experience for co-design workshops, interviews, reviewing materials, and helping with designing online experiments. We’ve found each of these experiences invaluable in shaping our research, and aim to do a lot more of this as we go into year 3.”

Deelan Maru

“We created a user journey map, depicting the typical customer journey when using gambling support tools via banking apps. For me, it was particularly useful to put myself into the perspective of someone using these tools – this fairly simple methodology has really helped me prioritise what changes I would test in our upcoming online experiment.” 

Louis Shaw

“My personal highlight has been the team’s growing expertise in online experiments. We’ll shortly have the results for three trials, looking at activity statements, the impact of adverts, and improving uptake of gambling management tools offered by banks. I’m really looking forward to taking these results to the field next year.” 

Tom van Zantvliet

“Digging back into the data we collected in year 1 to learn more about the experiences of women and ethnic minorities, was particularly memorable. While white males are the most prevalent gambling group, it’s really important we don’t restrict our focus to them alone. It’s fantastic that we have this ability to repurpose our data and ensure we can help a range of people.” 


So, where do we go from here? 

After considering the evidence gaps, the impact of our research-to-date, as well as gathering advice from our partners and our steering group we’ve begun to map out our plans for year 3. It’s time to bring our findings into the field and work at scale. 

  • Marketing & Disclosure: Build on our findings from advert content analysis and scale recommendations. Conduct an experiment on comprehension of product/offer information and review the evidence on impact of sponsorships.
  • Operators: Partner with an operator and conduct a field trial to replicate our online lab experiment on the impact of activity statements in the ‘real world’. Re-run our flagship behavioural audit, diving deeper into high-impact aspects of the user journey. 
  • Support & Treatment: Launch a pilot study to increase referrals to services. Draw on behavioural insights to inform a public campaign.
  • Financial services: Partner with a bank and conduct a field trial, testing the impact of spending limit tools. Work with a bank to use data to identify those at risk of harm

If you want to get involved in any of the above, please email your usual BIT contact, or email 

Finally, a huge thanks to our steering group, our partners, and those with lived experience, for sharing their perspectives and shaping our research. We’re hugely excited to build on these relationships as we move into year 3.