January 22nd saw the publication of a Health Impact Assessment that revealed troubling data on how gambling has affected Guernsey’s population. The data was gathered between September 2019 and February 2020, with the study being carried out by the Public Health Institute at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).
This pre-pandemic report shows that 79.9% of Guernsey’s residents had partaken in gambling at some point in the 12 months leading up to the survey, which is in stark contrast to Great Britain’s 57% for the year 2016. Christmas was the period when gambling activity was at its highest, as 67.5% of participants claimed they had wagered on the Channel Islands Christmas Lottery, and some of the said individuals had been minors at the time.
Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink stated that the situation has likely worsened as a result of the pandemic and claimed that the data showed the potential “minimum extent” of the gambling-related problems in present-time Guernsey. Dr Brink also said that the report has given instructions on what can be done to improve the situation, with measures like securing proper education on problem gambling and its consequences at schools and improving clarity on how vulnerable individuals can seek support being among the main suggestions.
Apart from the Christmas Lottery, the study showed that scratch cards were another prevalent way to gamble within the jurisdiction. According to the findings, the percentage of respondents who had bought scratch cards stood at 46.3%, over twice that of Great Britain (21%). What also served as a point of concern was the financial data of the Christmas Lottery, which revealed that the revenue amassed from scratch card sales has grown on a yearly basis in the period between 2013 and 2021. In addition, scratch cards were also the type of gambling that was most likely to be tied to poor health indicators.
Almost 7% of Guernsey Adults Were Found to be At-Risk Gamblers
Although the vast majority of Guernsey’s population was not facing problem gambling issues according to the survey results, the report did stress on how 6.7% of adults exhibited behaviour that designated them as at-risk gamblers, while 0.9% were found to have been suffering from gambling addiction. The age group with the most concerning at-risk data was that of 18 to 24-year-olds, with the report urging for intervention measures to be undertaken in order to help the said individuals avoid becoming problem gamblers.
Head of Public Health Intelligence Jenny Cataroche stated that the findings have given a clear idea of the state of gambling in Guernsey, specifically in comparison to what was available prior to the report’s publication. She noted that, according to the findings, most people in Guernsey gamble, and the vast majority of the jurisdiction’s residents have not been harmed by this hobby. Specific forms of gambling were revealed to have a “strong association” with poor health, however. Cataroche also emphasised how apart from problem gamblers themselves, or individuals whose wagering habits suggest they might be at-risk, their friends and family can also be affected negatively by gambling harm. Thus, measures that would improve a gambler’s wellbeing will also impact those in their social circle positively.
Another person to comment on the matter was Jon Taylor, Senior Lottery Officer of the States’ Trading Supervisory Board (STSB), who said that the Channel Islands Lottery utilises the money it accumulates from wagers to fund sporting initiatives, charities, and other ways of supporting the Guernsey community. He also acknowledged that despite how the lottery is entertaining for many, some individuals can find themselves running into issues due to excessive gambling. Taylor continued, saying that in the years after the report was conducted, the Channel Islands Lottery has made improvements. He finished by saying that initiatives to further encourage responsible gambling are in the works and that the Channel Islands Lottery is planning on conducting further research into gambling health.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.