Insights Evidence Gaps and Priorities – what is needed for regulatory change?


The Gambling Commission (“Commission”) has published its Evidence Gaps and Priorities programme which outlines its direction of travel, “as a people-focussed and evidence-led regulator” for the next three years.

The Commission recognises that “better data, better research and better evidence will lead to better gambling regulation” and is committed to ensuring that regulatory change is supported by appropriate evidence. As the organisation that is responsible for the production of official statistics on the size and shape of the gambling industry, the Commission have identified six evidence themes which they believe need to be addressed for them to regulate effectively.

The purpose of publishing these themes is to help external stakeholders better understand the scope of the Commission’s remit and to understand what evidence is used in making decisions about regulatory change. This should, in turn, allow the industry to support and assist the Commission in contributing to improving the evidence base, which will be very important over the coming months, and years, as the sector tackles the various consultations that were referenced in the White Paper. These six themes are:

  • Early gambling experiences and gateway products;
  • The range and variability of gambling experiences;
  • Gambling-related harms and vulnerability;
  • The impact of operator practices;
  • Product characteristics and risk; and
  • Illegal gambling and crime.

Evidence theme 1 – Early gambling experiences and gateway products

This theme is about understanding the gambling behaviours of children (under 16 years old), young people (those aged 16 and 17 years old) and young adults (18 to 24 years old) and what their journeys into gambling look like. There will be a key focus on how consumers engage with new products and activities that are not gambling but have similarities to gambling.

To better understand early gambling experiences and gateway products, the Commission will focus on:

 Evidence theme 2 – The range and variability of gambling experiences

This theme is about understanding the different experiences that people have with gambling, acknowledging how gambling fits into people’s lives and overlaps with other behaviours and experiences and how gambling habits and behaviours change over time.

To better understand the range and variability of gambling experiences, the Commission will focus on:

  • using the new Gambling Survey for Great Britain to improve its understanding of gambling participation at a national level and in sub-groups of interest; and
  • building on its work on consumer journeys, by focussing in on key parts of the Path to Play framework which helps to highlight the range of influences in a typical customer journey.

 Evidence theme 3 – Gambling-related harms and vulnerability

This theme is about gaining a better understanding of the different ways that consumers can experience harms and being able to identify these consumers who may be more vulnerable or at risk of experiencing harms.

To better understand gambling-related harms and vulnerability, the Commission will focus on:

  • using the Gambling Survey for Great Britain to produce robust statistics on who is experiencing gambling-related harms, and how;
  • conducting qualitative research with consumers with experience of gambling-related harm; and
  • using its datasets and wider evidence to identify groups that may be at greater risk of harm.

Evidence theme 4 – The impact of operator practices

This theme is about understanding how common operator practices influence consumer behaviour and assessing the effectiveness of interventions designed to detect and reduce gambling harms.

To better understand the impact of operator practices, the Commission will focus on:

  • gaining greater access to operator-held account-level data to further explore the impact of operator practices;
  • conducting consumer research to understand the role that operators practices play in the wider consumer journey; and
  • using our consumer voice research to understand the factors that influence consumer trust.

Evidence theme 5 – Product characteristics and risk

This theme is about improving understanding of which products and behaviours carry greater risk of harm, for whom, and why and gaining a deeper understanding of how consumers interact with different products and links to gambling harms.

To better understand product characteristics and risk, the Commission will focus on:

  • gaining greater access to operator-held account-level data to further explore patterns of play; and
  • using secondary analyses of existing datasets to further its understanding of product risk.

Evidence theme 6 – Illegal gambling and crime

This theme is about understanding how gambling is linked to criminal activity and improving our understanding of the extent and impact of the unregulated market.

To better understand illegal gambling and crime, the Commission will focus on:

  • research into consumers’ understanding and use of unlicensed illegal gambling operators; and
  • using the Gambling Survey for Great Britain to develop its understanding of how people commit crime or are a victim of crime as a dimension of gambling-related harm.

The Commission recognises that everyone’s customer journey is different and has therefore committed to work with the Lived Experience Advisory Panel which will provide the Commission with live perspectives based on customers own experiences of a wide range of gambling harms. The Commission has also committed to continually assess the quality of the evidence base that it relies on and has agreed to allow greater access to its research and evidence by making datasets available for wider analysis. This should hopefully provide the industry with clear examples as to the evidence used for regulatory changes and allow for open dialogue between the Commission and the rest of the sector.

A link to the Commission’s “Evidence gaps and priorities 2023 to 2026” can be found here.