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  • 23rd Feb 2022

The Gambling Policy & Research Unit

What we've been up to

In September, we launched the Gambling Policy & Research Unit to design, test and scale solutions to reduce gambling harm. Since then we’ve been busy!

Firstly, we kicked off with a rapid scoping exercise to spot-check the quality of evidence that already exists on reducing gambling harm and where the gaps were. We also explored the policy landscape, both in Britain and internationally, to understand pressing issues and best practice approaches. Here are some of the things that we learned:

  • There is scant causal evidence of ways to reduce gambling harm.
  • Even though fewer women gamble, they are at greater risk of gambling harm both through their own gambling behaviours, as well as through being affected by someone else’s gambling. This is particularly true for women who are Black, Asian or from a minority ethinic group. Similar patterns exist for broader ethinic minority groups, and deprived communities in Britain.
  • Although ~280,000 people in Britain experience problem gambling harm, only 6 in 10 of them seek any support. For those experiencing moderate risk of gambling harm, fewer than 1 in 5 people seek support.
  • The way that odds are presented impacts how likely someone is to understand them. As they stand, few people understand their odds of winning.
  • There is emerging evidence of the role of advertising on betting behaviour but little is known about the frequency, content or impact of direct marketing.

Next, we set about shaping our Year 1 workplan. We focused on two aspects: filling in some of the gaps that were highlighted by our rapid research, and addressing pressing policy challenges under consideration of the Gambling Act 2005 Review. This includes:

  • Running an online lab experiment exploring the design and framing of deposit limit tools. This found that providing people with a default deposit limit resulted in them setting lower limits and seeing the tool as more useful than when it was optional.
  • Planning a behavioural audit of gambling operator platforms to assess whether dark patterns occur and whether there are design features that risk consumers making poor decisions. This will inform policy recommendations and designs that we wish to test on operator websites.
  • Developing a discussion paper on applying Behavioural Market Design to recalibrate the gambling market. This sets out four approaches that policymakers can use to better align operator incentives to create a safer, enjoyable, and more competitive gambling market.
  • Exploring ways to close the treatment and support gap for people experiencing gambling harms. We are collaborating with organisations such as BetKnowMore, Citizens Advice, and GamCare to explore how we can design and test ways to remove barriers for people to access support.

Keep your eyes peeled for more details on all of the above!

Check out the story so far…


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