Double or nothing? Assessing the economic impact of gambling

This report explores the economic footprint of the entire gambling industry and its sub-sectors, and considers the extent to which the “economic defence” of business as usual stands up to scrutiny.

The aim of this research is to inform and broaden the debate surrounding the Government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act, given the prevalence of economic arguments in the policy debate surrounding future reform. The report seeks to answer questions about the gambling industry’s contribution to the economy – including jobs created, value added and tax revenue gained – and whether the economic benefits of gambling outweigh the social costs associated with problem gambling. It also asks what the gambling industry’s economic contribution means for regulatory reform.

Our findings indicate that while at present the gambling industry makes a sizeable contribution to the UK economy, a reduction in gambling expenditure through reduced rates of problem gambling would nevertheless be a net positive for the economy – with jobs and tax revenues from elsewhere more than offsetting losses in the gambling industry.

The report recommends that to ensure future gambling regulation is based on accurate, timely and detailed evidence, the Government should commission an urgent review of the social and economic costs of gambling, commencing in 2021 and concluding in line with the timeframe of the Gambling Act Review. No final decisions on legislative review should be made until the Treasury has conducted an assessment of the economic and social costs of each policy change.

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