An In-Depth Report on Gambling Attitudes Across the UK and US

Published Jul 30, 2021

Denholm Scotford, Sector Head TMTE at Harris Interactive UK

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Originally Published by Gambling Insider

In its ‘State of the Gambling Market 2021: UK & US’ report, Toluna and Harris Interactive has outlined current gambling interests and attitudes amid unprecedented times for the gambling industry in both regions.

 

Using Toluna Start, Toluna and Harris Interactive conducted 4,248 interviews (2,129 in the UK, 2,119 in the US) between 30th April and 7th May 2021. Data was weighted by age, gender, and region to be census representative in all markets.

The study aims to provide a better understanding of interests and attitudes within gambling amid the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK Government review of the Gambling Act 2005, and the launch of sports betting services across recently legalized US states.

In terms of gambling interests, the study found that sports betting is most popular in the UK, with casino games leading the way in the US. Interest in sports betting is, however, growing rapidly in the States since legalization began. Perhaps unsurprisingly, popularity follows national sporting interests in each country, with UK bettors favoring football and horseracing, and US bettors favoring basketball and American football. Boxing, meanwhile, has a strong future in both markets, according to the study.

And when it comes to casino game players, slots games continue to grow in popularity, while there is also interest in blackjack, roulette, and poker.

US gambling spend is higher than UK gambling spend, but both have increased during the pandemic; 39% have increased spend in the former, with 21% in the latter.

Views were also expressed on the reopening of physical venues in both countries, with more caution in the UK than in the US. A total of 16% of UK gamblers feel comfortable about returning to such venues, compared to 37% in the US. However, reassurance of sanitization and safety measures in physical venues will encourage players to return, though this must be “prominent and consistent to ensure confidence.”

The study also focused on attitudes towards responsible gambling, as well as regulations, two prominent issues that have garnered much attention in recent months in both the UK and the US.

A total of 81% of US respondents believe that a responsible gambling environment is important when choosing a provider, compared to 68% in the UK, with the majority of the UK and US public aware of the measures available to help promote responsible gambling. Furthermore, both nations “recognize the need for further measures to protect the vulnerable from gambling harm.” One in 10 UK gamblers is concerned that they gamble too much, with that figure rising to a quarter of US gamblers.

On regulation, the study reported that there is “awareness and support for regulations that have been implemented and potential changes considered in the review of the UK Gambling Act,” adding that “attitudes are mixed and generally favor a duty of care approach for others, rather than restrictions for personal concern.”

Two-thirds of the UK and US public believe gambling advertising encourages people to gamble excessively, with 72% of UK and 67% of US respondents saying children
should not be exposed to such advertising. The majority of those surveyed believe potential restrictions on gambling advertising would be effective in limiting gambling harm, particularly the banning of celebrity endorsements.

Opinions on the banning of bookmakers from sports sponsorship, a key issue within the impending UK Government review of the Gambling Act 2005, were also analyzed with 21% of the UK, and 15% of the US disagreeing that this would have an effective impact. However, the majority of respondents from both nations have no issues with current advertising, with almost half of the UK and over half of the US agreeing that no further restrictions are needed across different media channels.

“A total of 16% of UK gamblers feel comfortable about returning to such venues, compared to 37% in the US”

In payments, debit card usage and mobile contactless payments will continue to grow, with 28% of UK gamblers using debit cards more often for gambling purposes, and 26% set to use contactless payments more often. The majority of the UK public agrees with the current ban on credit card payments to UK gambling operators
which came into effect in 2020, with 26% disagreeing. Due to limited public familiarity, the use of cryptocurrencies in gambling has raised concerns over safeguarding and affordability controls, with only 12% saying cryptocurrencies should be allowed to be used freely within the industry.

And with regard to US legislation, just 51% of the public said they have a clear understanding of the legal status of gambling in the country, with 24% not sure and 25% not knowing enough about the issue. According to Harris Interactive, “awareness and understanding will increase and the US market presents a significant and fast-growing opportunity for operators.”

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