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Brussels – Significant differences exist In problem gambling monitoring in Europe – new study

By - 29 April 2022

Significant differences exist in how European countries monitor and report on problem gambling, according to a new study published by the City, University of London.

The study found that just 12 countries have regular national surveys about problem gambling prevalence and significant differences exist in the measurement tools and methodologies used in these surveys. The study found that levels of problem gambling in European countries range from 0.3% to 6.4% of the adult population but significant differences in national survey methods, screening tools, survey timings and target age groups, makes any meaningful comparisons between countries difficult.

The pan-European study reviewed the monitoring and reporting frameworks of 20 European countries,[1] covering the period 2015-2020, and assessed national approaches to problem gambling measurement and reporting methods, including relevant research studies and the screening tools used to measure problem gambling, and compiled the reported problem gambling levels. The study, which also reviewed gambling engagement levels, concludes that a more common approach to the monitoring and reporting of problem gambling would help improve the understanding of problem gambling and its prevalence in Europe.

The study was commissioned by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) as part of EGBA’s commitment to contribute to greater research and understanding about online gambling behaviours in Europe. In this respect, EGBA hopes the study and its finding will contribute to a better understanding of problem gambling and support an open and inclusive dialogue with other stakeholders about best practices, foster more common understandings of problem gambling and its prevalence, and support effective and evidence-based approaches to reduce gambling-related harm. 

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA, 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.” 

Key findings from the study:

  • 12 countries[2] have regular, systematic, national surveys about gambling engagement and problem gambling prevalence levels. The most frequent surveys are carried out quarterly and the longest interval is 5 years.
  • National surveys are administered using various methods. Gambling prevalence surveys or population-based gambling surveys are used in 7 countries while Health Surveys are the preferred vehicle in 3 countries.
  • The age ranges of those surveyed vary across countries. The minimum age to participate in the “adult” surveys varies from 15 to 18 years old. The maximum age for inclusion in a survey varies from 64 to 75 years old and some countries have no upper age limit.
  • 3 countries estimate problem gambling prevalence levels through reference to the number of self-excluded players.
  • Levels of problem gambling are estimated from the surveys using a variety of screening tools. 4 countries use more than one screening tool with reference to the same survey. The most common screening tool is PGSI and has been adopted in 9 countries.
  • Problem gambling is typically defined by reference to either IDC-10 or DSM criteria, or both.
  • Gambling engagement ranges from 32.9% to 80% of the population in the reviewed countries.
  • Reported levels of problem gambling range from 0.3% to 6.4% in the reviewed countries. Existing divergences in survey methods, screening tools, survey timings and target age groups make any meaningful comparisons between countries difficult.
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