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Gambling Commission: new survey will help fill evidence gaps

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The regulator’s head of research has hailed the introduction of the new Gambling Survey of Great Britain.

UK.- The Gambling commission’s head of research Laura Balla has provided more explanation of the benefits of the new Gambling Survey of Great Britain (GSGB). In a blog post on the regulator’s website, she said the new methodology would help fill evidence gaps and “make gambling safer for all”.

The survey’s first dataset was published earlier this year. Balla said that the new questions on the GSGB would help the regulator meet its objective of protecting children and vulnerable people from gambling-related harm through effective regulation. She noted that screening instruments such as the Problem Gambling Severity Index were becoming out of date after “discourse in recent years has expanded to recognise the wider harms that can be caused by gambling, and negative impacts that may affect gamblers themselves or others”.

Balla said the new questions were intended to “build a better understanding of the wider impacts that people may experience because of their own or someone else’s gambling, going beyond the limited insight provided by the PGSI”.

She wrote: “It has never been our intention to develop a headline score or psychometric scale of gambling-harms. The wider impacts of gambling are varied and diverse and to develop a single measure or scale would be extremely challenging, and the results would likely be less useful when applied to our regulatory and policy work.

“Instead, the new questions will give us insight into the range of experiences and associated trends that different consumers are having and allow us to explore the nuance and complexity of the impacts of gambling in a way that we cannot do if we only use the PGSI.”

Balla noted that the regulator realised that there were “differences in the severity” between things like bankruptcy, relationship breakdown and crime and other negative consequences and that these will now be treated separately. She noted that the regulator will involve its Lived Experience Advisory Panel before it publishes its first GSGB annual report to ensure “findings are being articulated sensitively and without stigma”.

A separate chapter of the report covering the impact of gambling will include “people’s motivations for and enjoyment of gambling”. The Gambling Commission will publish a full technical report on its question development with data from the first annual GSGB report in July.

Balla added: “As with all research of this nature, it is likely that further refinements may be needed to continue to develop this part of the evidence base in the future. However, this new body of evidence, and the ability we will have to start uncovering trends as the GSGB continues, will present a big step forward in filling evidence gaps around the impacts of gambling, and provide a better evidence base on which to focus our work to make gambling safer for all.”

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