By Abigail Townsend
Published: 02 July 2006
The largest international survey of online gambling will be launched tomorrow, with the findings due to be handed to the Government by the start of next year.
The research, organised by industry body eCogra, will question around 20,000 players online. It will also interview 200 players face-to-face in focus groups in the US, UK, Japan, Canada, Germany and Sweden. Teams from Nottingham Trent University in the UK and the University of Nevada in Las Vegas will run the survey.
The findings could influence legislation, said Andrew Beveridge, the chief executive of eCogra. “We believe this is the first time the industry has tried to really identify what its customers, the players, want and what motivates them. It is essential that player concerns be fully understood.
“We think the results will inform regulatory decisions, operator conduct and even software design for years to come. This announcement represents a step forward for everyone, and a real sign of a maturing industry.”
The report would be presented to the Government in January 2007, said a spokesman for eCogra. “We would want to present our findings to Government. We currently know next to nothing [about online gamblers]. We know about the winners and the losers, but we don’t really know about anything in between.”
Online gambling has soared in popularity in recent years, but has also created a fair deal of controversy, with critics pointing to the lack of regulation and the danger of problem gambling.
Under UK law, operators can’t be based onshore, so the bulk are in places such as the Isle of Man and Gibraltar. The law will change when the new Gambling Act comes into force next year, but there are concerns that operators will still not move onshore due to tax breaks where they are.
The City is also a fan of online gambling, with recent floats of players such as PartyGaming and 888.com attracting massive investor interest.