British Survey Says Lottery Most Popular Form Of Gambling — By Far

Eric Raskin

National Lottery sign

What’s the most common form of gambling in the U.K.? If data from the recently released Gambling Survey for Great Britain can be extrapolated as an accurate representation of the populace as a whole, it’s the lottery, by a comfortable margin.

The survey tapped 4,801 respondents age 18 and up from July-November 2023 and found that 37% of them paid for a lottery ticket or scratchcard of some sort in the preceding four weeks. Only 10% said they’d engaged in sports betting over those same four weeks, 5% said they’d played bingo, 5% said they’d played slots, and 3% had played other casino games.

It has commonly been theorized that there is a stigma attached to most forms of gambling that does not apply to playing the lottery. In other words: Folks who buy lottery tickets don’t necessarily think of themselves as “gamblers.”

These survey results from the Gambling Commission, which regulates most forms of gambling in Great Britain including the National Lottery, would appear to support this theory.

Digging deeper into the numbers

While 48% of respondents said they’d participated in gambling in the past four weeks, that number plummeted to 27% when excluding those who had only gambled via draw lottery tickets.

The survey suggested men are more likely to gamble than women (53% of males, 43% of females) and that the most likely age/gender group to participate is men aged 45-54 (59%). But excluding those who only play draw lotteries, the number slips to 33% of men 45-54.

The lottery-specific figures for percentage of respondents participating in different types break down as follows:

  • National Lottery draw tickets: 31%
  • National Lottery draw tickets bought online: 24%
  • National Lottery draw tickets bought in person: 17%
  • Charity lottery draws: 16%
  • Charity lottery draws bought online: 14%
  • Charity lottery draws bought in person: 6%
  • Scratchcards: 13%
  • National Lottery scratchcards: 12%
  • Other scratchcards: 5%
  • Online instant win games: 7%
  • National Lottery online instant win games: 6%
  • Other online instant win games: 3%

Online > live

One highly interesting data point: 38% of respondents said they had participated in some form of online gambling in the last four weeks, while 29% answered affirmatively for some form of in-person gambling.

The most popular reason for gambling (a question for which multiple answers could be given by a single respondent) was “to win big money” at 86%, followed by “because it’s fun” at 70%.

There is not necessarily a direct correlation between tendencies in Britain and America, but surely a gap this wide between lottery and everything else in the U.K. offers valuable insights for U.S. analysts.