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Making progress on addressing our Evidence Gaps and Priorities

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Image of Gambling Commission Head of Research, Laura Balla alongside the blog post title - 'Making progress on addressing our evidence gaps and priorities'

Our Head of Research, Laura Balla, reflects on the first year of our Evidence Gaps and Priorities programme.

Posted 11 July 2024 by Laura Balla

The first year of our Evidence Gaps and Priorities programme has been a busy one. The Gambling Commission’s focus has been on embedding our key priorities both internally and across the evidence ecosystem. We have also made progress on the delivery of our core evidence vehicles, to build firm foundations for improving the evidence base.

We have completed the development of the new Gambling Survey for Great Britain (GSGB) and have published our first two waves of official statistics on levels of gambling participation. We are now working towards our first annual publication and the release of new data on the impacts of gambling, including the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) and gambling-related harms. A huge amount of work has gone into developing a timely, robust survey that is fit for the future, and we were pleased that our approach was endorsed in an independent assessment of the GSGB (opens in new tab) conducted earlier this year. We will continue making improvements in the coming months and years and soon have an unprecedented volume and breadth of data on reported consumer gambling behaviour. This will help us to make greater progress on the identified gaps.

Alongside the GSGB we have also delivered several projects under our Consumer Voice programme. These projects have taken identified gaps in the evidence base and used a range of consumer research approaches to improve our understanding of elements of the consumer journey and gather both quantitative and qualitative evidence to support our work. Several of the projects involved direct engagement with consumers, conducting face to face focus groups to ensure that the voices and experiences of all consumers are considered in the work that we do. We engaged with nearly 40,000 consumers through our research (including the first two waves of the GSGB) in 2023 – a level that we hope to continue.

This year has also seen the introduction of our Data Innovation hub, which has been set up to make faster progress in establishing data-led solutions and increasing our capacity and capability to access and analyse large datasets from a range of sources. In the last year we have used data science techniques to explore new data sources, including open banking data and piloting the use of open-source data from X (formerly known as Twitter) and Meta. We are also improving the way that we collect core regulatory data from gambling operators and are moving into the pilot stage of the collection of a more detailed daily operator dataset.

We are also beginning to build our knowledge around the size of the unlicensed online gambling market, and the pathways into it, however there will be more work to do on this topic in the coming months. Whilst we conducted some small longitudinal research projects last year as part of the Consumer Voice programme, we still need large scale longitudinal research conducted over longer time periods to really understand how behaviour changes over time and the factors that influence those changes. The GSGB presents a fantastic opportunity to recontact respondents for further research, so we will be exploring the feasibility of developing longitudinal follow ups in the year ahead. We also note the need to build evidence of the impact of changes being made following the implementation of the Government’s White Paper, with the Commission and DCMS working together with NatCen to design a framework of potential evaluation approaches.

Going forward, in line with our recently published Corporate Strategy 2024 to 2027, we will continue our efforts to progress our thinking and develop our capacity and capability to improve the data and evidence that we use to regulate. Stakeholder feedback has suggested the need for clear roadmaps to help to show where we are hoping to get to with the six evidence themes outlined in our Evidence Gaps and Priorities. We are also continuing to improve the governance arrangements that sit around the work that we do and intend to develop this further in the year ahead.

Our Evidence Gaps and Priorities were always intended to be a living document. It is therefore important to reflect on the progress that has been made at this one-year point, and so the pages for each evidence theme have now been updated with key milestones and contributions that have been made in the last year. These cover examples of our own research and analysis, but also examples of work from across the evidence ecosystem. Whilst only a small reflection of the amount of work that has been carried out, they are pieces that have been particularly useful in filling known evidence gaps and informing the Commission’s work. We encourage all parties working in this space to continue to share the great work that they are doing with us so that we can continue to regulate gambling on the basis of robust, high-quality evidence going forward.

Read our updated Evidence Gaps and Priorities.

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