A report released by the British government's Gambling Commission today reveals that problem gambling has not increased over the last eight years, despite widespread speculation to the contrary.
In fact, there may be fewer problems today than before gambling was legalized in Great Britain on the Internet.
The British Gambling Prevalence Survey is a large-scale nationally representative survey of participation in gambling and the prevalence of problem gambling in Great Britain. The first British gambling prevalence survey was carried out in 1999.
This survey was commissioned to measure the Gambling Commission's success in keeping crime out of gambling, ensuring gambling is conducted fairly and openly, and protecting children and vulnerable people from harm from gambling.
In that regard, allowing people to gambling over the Internet seems to have helped.
Gambling experts, who commonly predict dire scenarios with any permissive change in gaming laws, are baffled.
The report lays out how the Web and other new forms of gambling introduced since 1999 have not led to misery and deprivation and that, due to a drop in National Lottery sales, the percentage of the UK population regularly buying a ticket fell from 72% in 1999 to 68%.
Commission chairman Peter Dean said more than 99% of adults who gambled did so harmlessly but that there were still 250,000 problem gamblers in Britain.
The survey quizzed more than 9,000 people between September 2006 and March 2007. The Commission admits it had expected to see a rise in the number of problem gamblers due to Internet betting, but that the opposite was in fact the case.
"There are a significant number of people who do gamble online [and] we've been tracking those, but as I say the overall result is there is no increase at all in problem gambling since the last survey," Dean said.
The Gambling Commission was set up under the Gambling Act 2005 and was formally established in October 2005.
It has taken over the role previously played by the Gaming Board for Great Britain in regulating casinos, bingo, gaming machines and lotteries.
In addition, since September 2007, the Commission has had responsibility for the regulation of betting and remote gambling, as well as helping to protect children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling. The Commission is also responsible for advising local and central government on issues related to gambling.
The Gambling Commission is a Non-Departmental Public Body, sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It operates at arm's length from government and its advice is independent.
All the funds used to operate the commission are levied from the gambling industry itself.