Gambling in BAME & Risk Factors

Updated: Apr 14

Gambling in BAME
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Executive Summary

  • Literature has repeatedly indicated that problem gambling is most prevalent among 16-24-year-olds, males, and of minority ethnic backgrounds.

  • As well as differences in attitudes, there are other factors such as the locations of betting shops, that lead to a disproportionately negative effect of gambling harm in BAME communities.

(Despite this, there has been a dearth of RET work in this population)

In the past 12 months

  • 1 in 2 BAME individuals gambled

(52% for Black/Black British, 41% for Asian/Asian British, and 53% for 'other' ethnic groups)

  • 1 in 4 BAME gamblers suffered significant gambling-related harm

(27.1% for Black/Black British gamblers, 24.6% of Asian/Asian British gamblers, 24.5% for 'other' ethnic group gamblers)

  • 1 in 17 BAME gamblers suffered the most severe form of harm (problem gambling harm)

(5.8% of Black/British gamblers, 6.9% of Asian/Asian British gamblers, 4.3% of 'Other' ethnic group gamblers)


  • This is the first review to collect, collate, and analyse the evidence on the prevalence of gambling disorder, the associated risk factors, and problem gambling perceptions within BAME populations.

  • In a study by Clearview, 89% of young BAME participants said a difference between how gambling is seen in minority ethnic cultures compared to white cultures.

  • There is minimal research on gambling in BAME communities. In fact, there has only been a single specific qualitative study, and there are no dedicated quantitative studies.

  • Prevalence studies that aim to represent the levels of low-risk (LR), moderate-risk (MR), and problem-gambling (PG) harm in the population have repeatedly reflected that BAME individuals suffer disproportionate harm.

  • Additionally, high-quality studies have repeatedly demonstrated that younger age groups are more likely to suffer PG harm than older age groups. PG harm is most prevalent amongst 16-24-year-olds.

  • There is no data directly stratifying BAME ethnic groups by age groups or by gender,

  • Despite this consistent picture, studies have yet to appropriate larger sampling sizes towards BAME groups. A lack of appropriate research study designs is compounded by the lack of clarity in reporting in the existing literature.


The most recent gambling prevalence surveys, BGPS 2007 and BGPS 2010, found that Asian and Black ethnic groups led to a significantly higher chance of problem gambling. In 2012, the NHS Survey Data found this relationship again and a significant relationship for other ethnic groups. The studies' primary limitation is the small sample sizes of people from minority backgrounds; hence, the estimates lack precision.

Black, Asian, and other ethnic minority populations account for 12% of England and Wales's population. However, according to previously existing odds ratio analysis in three studies, Black, Asian, and other ethnic minority populations account for 31% (BGPS 2007), 17% (BGPS 2010), and 47% (NHS Survey 2012) of all problem gamblers.

As well as the effect of small sample sizes, these estimates are affected by cultural stigma, pride, mental health, health awareness, and other factors related to health inequality that impact BAME populations differently.

Prevalence of gambling

The BGPS 2010 showed that gambling is less common amongst BAME than in the White British ethnic group, with approximately ½ of all BAME adults gamble in some form. In contrast, it is almost ¾ of all White British ethnicity adults that gamble. (52% for Black/Black British, 41% for Asian/Asian British, and 53% for 'other ethnic groups)

The BGPS 2010 also showed that 1 in 4 BAME gamblers suffer significant harm

(27.1% for Black/Black British gamblers, 24.6% of Asian/Asian British gamblers, 24.5% for 'other' ethnic group gamblers)

Prevalence of problem gambling

A median of odds ratios from three studies of problem gambling in ethnic groups is calculated below: (relative to White/White British ethnic groups; using all available literature: BGPS 2007, BGPS 2010, NHS Health Survey Data 2012; a median is used due to the small sample sizes involved and therefore limited precision of results in any one study)

  • Black/Black British: 3.80

  • Asian/Asian British 3.55

  • Other' groups: 2.86

The prevalence of problem gambling by DSM-IV screen in the last well-designed prevalence study (BGPS 2010) amongst White British adults was reported at 0.8%.

This leads to problem gambling prevalence estimates for 16+ adults:

Black/Black British: 3.04%

Asian/Asian British: 2.84%

Other: 2.29%

Approximately 1 in 34 BAME adults (16+) suffer the most severe level of gambling harm (problem gambler-harm)

  • 1 in 17 BAME gamblers suffered the most severe form of harm (problem gambling harm)

(5.8% of Black/British gamblers, 6.9% of Asian/Asian British gamblers, 4.3% of 'Other' ethnic group gamblers)

BGPS 2010 Factors: 'coping', 'recreation' & 'money'

The British Gambling Prevalence Survey in 2010 is the only study in Britain to have explored the different factors that motivate an individual to gamble. In this research, significant differences were seen between BAME gamblers and White gamblers, and particularly on the factors of ‘coping,’ ‘recreation,’ and ‘money.’

  • The average BAME gambler identifies coping as a motivator more strongly than the average low-risk harm gamblers.

  • Asian and Black gamblers are less motivated towards gambling for recreation purposes relative to other gamblers.

  • Black gamblers are more likely to be motivated towards gambling to make money or gambling for the chance of winning big money when compared to other gamblers.

Other factors

Betting shops in England and Wales are in postcode districts where the population is on average, disproportionately composed of individuals from BAME ethnicity groups.

  • In postcode districts where there are 10 or more betting shops, the population is even more disproportionately composed of all minority ethnic groups except for those under other.

  • Furthermore, the locations of 6518 betting shops in England are overwhelmingly in deprived areas, according to 2019 Office for National Statistics Deprivation data.

Young BAME perspectives from the GambleAware/Clearview Research study

Cultural stigma

  • “... in our culture or community, gambling has a bad reputation, and so if you gamble, you have a bad name.

  • “... yeah, our community is harsh… people have harsh opinions about people… so if you are doing anything that is seen as bad, you are seen are bad.

  • “Yeah, people don’t speak a thing about gambling.

  • All the bookies are in the hood, and you see a lot of yardies (translation: Jamaicans) in them.

Health awareness

  • “…like on the packages, it says smoking kills, so you know what you are getting into, but I don’t see anything like that with gambling at all.

  • “Oh yeah, it’s treated different; even when it becomes a problem - for white people, it’s like ‘they need help’ whereas, for us, it’s treated like it’s a sickness.

  • “Black and Asian communities they are more strict about gambling, and they think it’s a mental illness.

Getting help

  • None of the 65 participants confidently knew where to get help. One participant whose gambling had become a problem stated that “No, I didn’t know at all… my mental health suffered, I was in 15 grand of debt… I was in a bad place, man.”

  • Nearly nine in 10 (89%) participants said there is a difference between how gambling is seen in ethnic and white cultures.

Reasons for gambling

  • “I feel like Black people see gambling as a glimpse of a way out, but for white people, it just for bants.

  • “White people go into the bookies for banter, whereas people from my culture go to actually make money.


Gambling-harm is more prevalent and is likely to have a worse impact in those from a BAME background, and this is in part due to differences in cultural attitudes and associated stigmas. Furthermore, this is worsened by betting shops being overwhelmingly crammed into areas where there are higher percentages of BAME individuals and in areas of deprivation.

Education professionals and treatment providers should look to rapidly develop and expand consideration for gambling harm in BAME communities.


Map of betting shops in GB

Define vulnerable person

The Commission does not seek to define ‘vulnerable persons,’ but it does, for regulatory purposes, assume that this group includes

  • people who gamble more than they want to,

  • people who gamble beyond their means and,

  • people who may not be able to make informed or balanced decisions about gambling due to, for example, mental health, a learning disability, or substance misuse relating to alcohol or drugs

"If you are targeting vulnerable people, who will become addicted, then it is immoral."

- Young BAME perspective


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