The UK Gambling Commission has issued a warning to the online gambling industry about the misuse of official statistics to support their arguments and agendas. The regulator’s chief executive, Andrew Rhodes, wrote an open letter to express his concerns about the unacceptable and misleading use of data by various parties, such as operators, trade bodies, campaigners, and media outlets.
Rhodes said that he was alarmed by the frequent misinterpretation and misrepresentation of gambling statistics, such as the prevalence of problem gambling, the impact of Covid-19 on gambling behaviour, and the effectiveness of self-exclusion schemes. He said that these practices undermine the credibility and integrity of the evidence base and create confusion and mistrust among the public and policymakers.
He also said that he was disappointed by the lack of cooperation and correction from some bodies that have repeatedly misused gambling statistics, despite being contacted by the regulator. He said that the Gambling Commission has referred some cases to the Office for Statistics Regulation, which is responsible for ensuring that official statistics are trustworthy, quality, and valuable.
Rhodes urged all parties to use evidence and statistics correctly and accurately, and to follow the guidance and standards set by the UK Statistics Authority. He also reminded them that the Gambling Commission is the only official source of gambling statistics in Great Britain, and that its data is collected and analysed by independent and reputable organisations.
He said that the Gambling Commission is committed to providing transparent and reliable information on gambling participation, behaviour, attitudes, and harm in Great Britain. He also said that the regulator is open to constructive feedback and dialogue on how to improve its data collection and dissemination.
He concluded his letter by saying that he hopes that his message will lead to a more responsible and respectful use of gambling statistics in the future, and that he expects all parties to adhere to the highest standards of evidence-based policymaking.