Graph of Shame

It’s 2022 and our gambling laws remain unloved and neglected, so I thought I’d just kick things off with a simple, depressing chart.

It shows that 60% of the UK gambling industry’s profits come from the 5% most vulnerable and at risk customers. Those numbers are well known because they’re from a House of Lords report last year. It’s the same one that estimates we have 55,000 underage gambling addicts.

Although those numbers are heavily publicised, I don’t think I’ve seen them presented visually anywhere else. I’ve done it here because people are too lazy to process raw numbers for themselves. That’s my key takeaway from months of studying for an online Data Science course – make your information pretty.

I probably should’ve remembered that lesson from the Psychology MSc. For most of human history we didn’t need to count higher than five, so our brains didn’t evolve to deal with numbers naturally or easily. That cognitive friction has tricked a lot of people into thinking they can’t cope with any mathematics and thus switch off the second you stray onto the top row of the keyboard.

That’s a sad state of affairs, and it makes me very grateful to be in the numerate minority. I gobble up data like the Maltesers from a fresh tub of Celebrations (there’s a topical festive reference for you).

Anyway, that’s why I’ve turned this bleak research into a picture. Hopefully I’ve done a good enough job that no further explanation is necessary, but if the different-sized rectangles are unclear, here’s an analogy:

Imagine you have a whipround at the pub to raise £100 for the local foodbank. There are twenty people in the bar and the first nineteen chip in £40 between them. The last contributor is actually the poorest and hungriest person there, but somehow he rustles up the last £60 to reach the target.

Shockingly, that is exactly how the gambling industry’s profits are broken down.

To their credit, I think the big companies realise that it isn’t a sustainable situation. If most of your profits are coming from people who are playing beyond their means, then you are in a deeply precarious position. Particularly with legislative uncertainty on the horizon.

That is probably the main motivation behind their slick “entertainment first” re-brands. At present though, I see all style and no substance.

I am the perfect target for a company that wants to diversify the source of its profits. Betting is purely entertainment for me, and I don’t mind losing if I’m having fun. I could afford to bet twice as much and be no worse off emotionally or financially.

The portion of the smaller orange oblong that represents me could be much bigger. The Graph of Shame demands that you come for my beer money.

But who is reaching out to me? Who is offering the responsible products, promotions and value-propositions that are going to earn a bigger share of my entertainment budget?

In my experience, Bet365 are doing okay on two out of three counts. That’s good enough for Meatloaf, so it’s good enough for me, but I don’t see it from any other big players.

There has been a regulatory stay of execution, but time is running out to do better.

Bobby’s Bets

It’s not December any more, I can bet again! I dabbled across the weekend’s Premier League fixtures and thanks to Brentford winning and Riad Mahrez scoring, I’m only £3 down.

I may have a punt on the PDC darts final and fourth Ashes test if I see some value.

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