August 14, 2023 3 min read


UKGC Advises against the Misuse of Statistics for Furthering Arguments

Andrew Rhodes asked interested parties to properly understand the context behind statistics before referring to them to further arguments

The United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission (UKGC) scrutinized the misuse of statistics for furthering arguments and pushing agendas. While the British regulator supports all kinds of opinions on gambling, it slammed the misuse of statistics as “unacceptable.”

The UKGC noted that it has seen all kinds of pro-gambling and anti-gambling bodies misuse statistics to present their arguments. This includes, among others, operators, unions, non-profit organizations, sports bodies and media companies.

To make matters worse, some complaints the authority has received have seen the complainants themselves resort to misusing statistics. In other cases, parties resorted to leveraging unreliable statistics whose authors had themselves noted that the data in their works might not reveal the full picture.

The UKGC’s chief executive officer, Andrew Rhodes, noted that all parties who use statistics to present their points should do so “accurately and in the correct context.” The UKGC warned that it might refer cases of misused data to the Office for Statistics Regulation.

Problem Gambling Rates Are Oftentimes Misrepresented

Rhodes explained that the most commonly misused statistic is related to the problem gambling rate in Great Britain. Many organizations have referred to a figure that shows only 0.3% of adults in Great Britain are problem players.

The figure relates to UKGC’s short PGSI screen that shows that between March 2019 and March 2023, between 0.2% and 0.6% of people over 16 had experienced gambling harm. In addition, the figure represents only problem players and not “at risk” players, the UKGC added.

Instead, multiple organizations have wrongly claimed that the figure represents 0.3% of the gamblers in the UK and that it refers to both problem players and at-risk players.

The UKGC referred to a number of surveys to demonstrate the faultiness of the 0.3% claims, including the Health Survey for England 2021, HAS 2021 Gambling tables and the Health Survey for England 2018. For example, the 2021 survey showed that 0.8% of those who had gambled in the past 12 months were experiencing problem gambling. However, this statistic itself also doesn’t show the full picture, Rhodes pointed out.

In addition, the CEO noted that the representation of certain gambling verticals as “less risky” is misleading and untrue. Furthermore, parties have sometimes compared statistics to claim certain development in the sector. While this is not a problem in itself, the data, arguments and methodologies they have used are oftentimes faulty, Rhodes argued.

Misusing Statistics Serves No One, Rhodes Said

Rhodes noted that the real statistics confirm that problem gambling rates in the United Kingdom are low. However, he slammed parties who misinterpret data to push agendas and warned that problem gambling can still be devastating to families and people’s relationships.

Anyone seeking to compare data sets has an obligation to make sure the data is used in the proper context and not compared when it is not appropriate to do so, especially when authors have placed those caveats on their reports.

Andrew Rhodes, CEO, UKGC

Rhodes concluded that gambling is a topic that can be discussed in depth but added that misusing statistics to further an argument serves no one. Because of that, he asked parties to take greater care to properly understand the context and truthfully represent the information when appealing to statistics.


Angel has a passion for all forms of writing, be it fiction or nonfiction. His curious nature gives him an ace up his sleeve when researching a new topic. Angel’s thirst for knowledge, paired with adaptability, always helps him find his way around.

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