Gambling: key statistics from the Health Survey for England

For the first time ever the Health Survey for England has included questions on gambling. See they key figures from their findings

The annual Health Survey for England (HES) has been published, providing information on a variety of health indicators from alcohol consumption to physical activity and now, for the first time ever, it has included questions on gambling behaviour.

In 2012, 68% of men and 61% of women had participated in gambling activity in the past 12 months, according to the survey. If you strip out those that only participated in the National Lottery – which accounted for the majority of total gambling activity – then 46% of men and 40% of women had gambled on some other activity in the last 12 months.


The chart above shows how gambling activity breaks down by gender. The survey found that among both men and women, buying lottery tickets were the most popular form of gambling, followed by scratch cards.

Participation in other lotteries and betting on horse racing were the third and fourth most popular respectively for both genders. The next most prevalent gambling activities amongst men were using slot machines (10%) and private betting (9%).

With the exception of bingo (which was the fifth most popular gambling activity for women), the survey found that “men tended to be more likely than women to gamble in most activities, and had a larger gambling activity repertoire.”

The release also breaks down the responses by age although the inclusion of the National Lottery, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, does skew age patterns:

“With much higher participation rates than any other gambling activity, the age profile of National Lottery players naturally dominates the overall age pattern for all gambling activities”

The prevalence of gambling in the last year for both men and women was highest among those aged 25-64, but if you look at the age breakdown excluding the National Lottery, a different pattern emerges.


Participation rates of gambling activity (excluding the National Lottery) for both men and women were highest for 16-34 year olds. The chart above shows how participation rates in gambling activities, excluding the National Lottery, break down by gender and age.

The release also looks at gambling by area deprivation, measured using the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). The HSE found that:

“Among both men and women, there was no difference in gambling prevalence by area deprivation, once age was accounted for. This held true across all gambling activities,with the exception of bingo, horse racing and online betting with a bookmaker.”

However, the survey did find that those living in the most deprived IMD quintile were more likely to take participate in bingo than those living in less deprived areas.


An analysis of gambling on fixed odd betting terminals (FOBT) and claimant count earlier this year on the Datablog found:

“£40bn was staked on high-speed, high-stakes gambling machines with northern, urban cities and London boroughs with high levels of unemployment last year bearing the brunt”

A 2010 survey by the Gambling Commission found that problem gambling prevalence did vary by IMD and was lowest among the least deprived areas and higher among more deprived areas, being highest among those in IMD quintile 4.

The survey also found an association between problem gambling prevalence and employment status:

“Problem gambling prevalence was highest among the unemployed (3.3%) and the ‘other’ group (4.6%) and lowest among those who were retired (0.1%) and those looking after family/home (0.5%).”

The HSE, a series of surveys commissioned by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, covers the adult population aged 16 and over living in private households in England. Since 1995, the surveys have also included children who live in households selected. For the 2012 survey, 9,024 addresses were randomly selected in 564 postcode sectors and a total of 8,291 adults and 2,043 children were interviewed.

The inclusion of questions on gambling have also allowed the HSE 2012 to assess ‘at-risk’ gambling prevalence. They found that overall, 4.8% of men and 1.6% of women were identified as low risk gamblers and a further 1.7% of men and 0.4% of women were identified as moderate risk gamblers. Although, taken together with gambling prevalence, the proportion of men and women identified as at risk of harm from their gambling behaviour in the last 12 months rises to 7.1% and 2.1% respectively.

You can find a selection of the data from the HES 2012 in the downloadable spreadsheet.

Source: The Guardian

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