Andrew Rhodes, Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, issued harsh disapproval of the manipulation of gaming data for political purposes in a public address released on Monday. Rhodes expressed alarm about the rise in the abuse of such data, a worrying trend that has surfaced in the aftermath of the Gambling Act review white paper. His statement emphasizes the significance of proper depiction and contextual use of data in the conversation around gaming regulation.
The Gambling Commission’s top official emphasized the growing problem of inaccurate gambling data being used to argue for certain political objectives. The regulatory authority is deeply concerned about the rising frequency of such deceptive practices. These problematic tactics have been reported by a wide range of institutions, including casino operators, industry associations, charity organizations, media outlets, and even athletic stadium owners.
Rhodes was harsh in his criticism, calling the use of data for political purposes “unacceptable.” He claimed that any side who uses statistical data to support their claims must do it accurately and within the proper context. Through open and truthful depiction, the integrity of the dialogue surrounding gaming, its impact, and the essential changes should be maintained.
Of particular concern to Rhodes were two frequently cited statistics: “99.7% of people who gamble do so without being harmed” and “only 0.3% of gamblers are harmed.” Rhodes contested the veracity of these figures, asserting that they distort the actual statistical landscape.
He clarified that these statistics, derived from the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), have been wielded by opponents of more stringent gambling regulations. Rhodes underscored the range in the PGSI data, which has shown figures varying between 0.2% and 0.6% over recent years. Importantly, he emphasized that this percentage pertains to the entire adult population of Great Britain, not just those who engage in gambling, contrary to some claims.
Drawing on data from the Health Survey for England 2021, Rhodes presented contrasting figures. Among individuals over the age of 16 who engaged in gambling in the past year, a 0.8% problem gambling rate was observed. He also cautioned against misinterpretation of the 0.3% figure as an indicator of those “at risk” from gambling-related harms. Rhodes contended that this assertion conflated problem gambling with gambling-related harm.
Rhodes acknowledged the complexities of interpreting statistics, highlighting that while the overall problem gambling rate remains relatively low, it necessitates comprehensive understanding. He stressed that even with a relatively small proportion of individuals experiencing problem gambling, the repercussions could be catastrophic, affecting hundreds of thousands directly and countless others in their circles.
He implored individuals discussing this issue to exercise caution in their use of evidence and statistics, advocating for a more rigorous and accurate approach.
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