Andrew Rhodes defends shift to Gambling Survey for Great Britain as he stresses the need for care when comparing old and new datasets
Gambling Commission (GC) CEO Andrew Rhodes has said comparisons between the regulator’s new dataset and previous statistics should be done with “care” to avoid misconceptions.
Speaking at the GambleAware conference in London, Rhodes delivered a keynote speech in which he delved into the GC’s new Gambling Survey for Great Britain.
The regulator released an initial dataset from the study last month, which boldly claimed 2.5% of respondents were at high risk of gambling-related harm after scoring eight or higher on the Problem Gambling Severity Index.
That figure, when extrapolated, suggests one in 40 people are at high risk of gambling-related harm, well above previous figures from the GC’s quarterly telephone survey of 0.2%.
Rhodes explained the telephone survey, as well as the NHS health survey the regulator had previously used, were insufficient to satisfy the regulatory data needs.
Rhodes said: “They weren’t predictable in terms of when the data would be available. It’s also been hard to get the level of detail and granularity that we require in today’s environment.
“The Gambling Survey for Great Britain has been painstakingly developed to give us the level of detail we need, with modernised questions, increased flexibility and increased frequency. It will also benefit from an increase in scale, with around 20,000 respondents each year when it’s up to full capacity.”
Rhodes went on to note the updated survey will be the “largest of its kind anywhere in the world” but stressed that it is still “experimental”.
The CEO implored those in the industry to take care when making comparisons between the new data and previous incarnations that the regulator has used.
He continued: “This data is still experimental in nature. It doesn’t replace the current official statistics. But the new survey does also use a new and completely different methodology to what has gone before.
“So, we should be careful about comparing this data with previous surveys. It is really important that we take care when comparing datasets. The first official statistics we published for the Gambling Survey for Great Britain next year will be a new baseline from which we will start to compare in future years.”
Following the publication of the initial dataset last month, Northridge Law’s Melanie Ellis said the new figure for high-risk individuals at 2.5% was “alarming” and represented a “very different result” to previous studies.
Rhodes said the regulator had invested “significant resources” into the new study and that the survey will lead to “better regulation and better outcomes operators, consumers and those at risk”.
The CEO also announced that Patrick Sturgis, Professor of Quantitative Social Science at the London School of Economics, had been commissioned to undertake an independent review of the GC’s methodology.
Those findings and subsequent recommendations will be published early next year.