Online gamblers in the UK “younger, better educated, more affluent”

uk-gambling-surveyOnline gambling participation in the UK has increased by around 50% over the past six years, according to a new report by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

In a followup to its recent gambling participation survey, the UKGC issued a secondary analysis of data compiled by DataBuild Research & Solutions. According to the Trends in Gambling Behavior 2008-20014, remote gambling participation was 15.4% in December 2014 compared to 9.7% in December 2008, while the overall gambling participation rate dipped slightly over the same period.

The gains are most noticeable among male gamblers, whose online participation rose from 11.7% in December 2008 to 18% last December. Female online gamblers rose from 7.8% to 12.8% over the same period. The likelihood of participation in online sports betting is 106.8% higher for men than women, while men were 24.9% more likely to participate in other forms of online gambling.

Interestingly, men tend to gamble more online as the economy worsens. A 1% decrease in the UK’s gross domestic product was associated with a 4.6% increase in male online gambling participation. Meanwhile, a 1% increase in the ranks of the unemployed resulted in a near-equal decline in female online gambling while no such correlation was observed in male online gamblers.

The strongest association between online gambling and macro-economic indicators is the consumer price index. For every 1% rise in the CPI, remote gambling participation rose 2.3%. However, the UKGC cautioned that other factors, particularly the rising popularity of mobile devices, were the most likely contributors to the increased popularity of remote gambling.

In socio-economic terms, the UKGC’s survey concluded that online gambling “attracts more affluent people compared to people in lower social grades.” Online gambling participation in the ‘AB’ category (representing the top two economic tiers) rose from 11.9% in 2008 to 18.7% in 2014.

Online gambling participation among the ‘DE’ group (the two lowest tiers) increased at a much slower rate, from 5.6% to 9.3%. Moreover, the online participation gap between the upper and lower groups has increased nearly 50% over the past six years. This supports previous research by Statistics Canada that found online gambling to be six times more popular among high-income earners than those at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid.

University degree holders were 44.6% more likely to engage in online betting than their less educated brethren. Degree holders were also 21.8% less likely to play lottery scratchcards and 35.4% less likely to use fixed-odds betting terminals in betting shops.

The UKGC concluded that online betting tended to attract “younger, better educated and more affluent people.” However, ‘younger’ is a relative term. There’s been a “significant” increase in online gambling among the 35-54 age demographic, to the point where the difference with the 18-34 demo is no longer significant.