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Exploring the link between gambling and problem debt

StepChange Debt Charity is working in partnership with the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre to deliver a research project exploring the link between problem debt and gambling.

The work is financed by regulatory settlements funding from the Gambling Commission.

Why is this research needed?

There is evidence that gambling and problem debt are connected but we don't yet fully understand the particular ways in which they are linked; how they exacerbate each other; how this influences people's behaviour when it comes to seeking debt advice; and how it affects client outcomes from debt advice. This new research will help address this important gap in our knowledge and look at ways to reduce the harm caused by gambling-related debt.

What are the research questions and methods?

We have three main research questions:

  1. What role does gambling play in the production of over-indebtedness in households where there is gambling?
  2. Does the presence of gambling impact on seeking help with over-indebtedness, either preventing or facilitating people addressing their debt problems?
  3. How can the harm caused by gambling-related debt be reduced?

These questions will be answered using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, including:

  • Analysis of StepChange client data
  • In-depth interviews with StepChange clients who have experienced gambling-related debt
  • In-depth interviews with StepChange clients who have been affected financially by others who experienced gambling related issues
  • Roundtables with experts in the field of gambling disorder

Progress so far

This research started in 2021 and fieldwork for this project is nearing completion, and a report will be published in 2022.