NHS survey: more than half of English adults gambled in 2018

3 December 2019

Just over half of over-16s in England gambled in 2018, with 0.4% identified as problem gamblers, according to the National Health Service’s (NHS) Health Survey for England study.

A total of 53% of the 5,719 adults who participated in the survey said they participated in gambling activities during 2018. This figure falls to 39% when the National Lottery is excluded.

The age group where gambling was most prevalent was from the ages of 45-54, with 59% of the cohort gambling. Gambling was least common in those aged 16-24, with 38% of that group reporting having gambled.

Among men, gamblers skewed younger than among women, with the most common age group for male gamblers being 25-34, with 64% of respondents saying they took part in gambling, while 44% of those aged 16-24 gambled.

Among women, the 45-54 and 55-64 age groups were the joint most likely to gamble, at 57%, while only 32% of those aged 16-24 gambled.

The NHS did not provide the overall number of participants who gambled online, but said results suggested 15% of England's male adult population, and 4% of women did so.

Based on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), the NHS estimated that 0.4% of respondents met the criteria to be classed as problem gamblers.

The PGSI consists of nine areas such as “chasing losses,” “gambling causing health problems” and “feeling guilty about gambling”. Respondents score each area from 0, representing “never,” to 3, representing “almost always”. A score of 8 or more represents a gambling problem.

A further 3.2% of respondents were identified as at-risk gamblers, scoring between 1 and 7 on the PGSI, meaning that 3.6% of participants were identified as either problem gamblers or at risk.

Men were more likely to be identified as problem or at-risk gamblers, with 6% of men and 2% of women being identified as either problem or at risk.