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Gambling: key points

  • Many types of gambling are legally available in Scotland, including bingo, slot machines, casinos, betting shops and the National Lottery.
  • The 2016 Scottish Health Survey reported that two thirds (66%) of Scottish adults had spent money on gambling within the previous 12 months.
  • Many people gamble without experiencing adverse consequences, but others experience a range of health harms including depression, anxiety and poor physical health. People can also experience a range of other harms detrimental to health and wellbeing, such as financial difficulty and distress and relationship breakdown.
  • It is estimated that in 2016 one in 100 Scottish adults (1.0% of the adult population, or around 45,000 people) were problem gamblers, based on two standard measures.
  • A further 1.2% (around 54,000 adults) were likely to be at risk of gambling problems, based on a standard risk questionnaire.
  • There are significant inequalities in who is most likely to experience harm; those living in the most deprived areas of Scotland are nearly three times more likely to be problem gamblers than those living in the least deprived areas (2.1% vs 0.8%).
  • Young people can also experience harm from gambling. This may be harm from their own gambling or harm caused by parental gambling. It is estimated at around one in every 250 children aged 11-15 (0.4%) experience gambling problems in Britain.


Acknowledgement: ScotPHO would like to thank Heather Wardle (Assistant Professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) for her assistance in producing this section.

Section updates:

  • This section was first published in October 2015.
  • The next major review / update is due to be carried out by end December 2017.
Page last updated: 02 November 2017

© Scottish Public Health Observatory 2014