Bishop of St Albans asks about gambling, bankruptcies and sports sponsorship

On 9th March 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received answers to two written questions, about gambling and bankruptcy, and gambling firms sponsoring football shirts

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL1785 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Insolvency Service’s figures which show gambling to be a feature in 373 bankruptcies last year, an increase from 158 in 2015–16.

Baroness Barran: Gambling and Other Rash Speculation was recorded as the main cause of insolvency in 2% of the total bankruptcy orders made in 2018/19, or 373 cases. The numbers of bankruptcies with this listed as the primary cause have varied in the last ten years, falling to their lowest point of 158 in 2015/16 and then rising in subsequent years (see Table 1 below). Rises or falls in annual bankruptcy numbers can be complex and will relate to a number of factors such as interest rates and creditor attitudes. Over the same period problem gambling rates in Great Britain have remained stable at under 1% of the adult population.

Table 1: Bankruptcy orders where the primary cause was recorded as “Gambling and other rash speculation”, England & Wales, 2008/09 to 2018/191

Year Total Bankruptcy Orders [2] Number of Bankruptcy Orders with Gambling and Other Rash Speculation Listed as the Cause [3,4,5] Percentage of Bankruptcy Orders with Gambling and Other Rash Speculation Listed as the Cause
2008/09 [5] 72,383 728 1%
2009/10 [5] 72,863 543 1%
2010/11 [5] 53,326 363 1%
2011/12 38,460 201 1%
2012/13 29,325 185 1%
2013/14 23,575 168 1%
2014/15 19,065 163 1%
2015/16 15,219 158 1%
2016/17 15,352 238 2%
2017/18 15,408 300 2%
2018/19 16,725 373 2%


1. Source: The Insolvency Service.

2. Total bankruptcy statistics are consistent with National Statistics published by the Insolvency Service at

3. The cause of bankruptcy is recorded on the Insolvency Service’s case administration system. These data are management information and have not undergone the same level of quality assurance as the Insolvency Service’s National Statistics outputs.

4. The data provided as cause of bankruptcy is reliant on the Insolvency Service’s examiner listing Gambling and Other Rash Speculation as the primary cause of bankruptcy, so it cannot be guaranteed that this figure covers all bankrupts that had gambling debts. The Gambling and Rash Speculation category covers causes other than gambling, but it is not possible to break this down further.

5. Data on cause of bankruptcy prior to 2011/12 is from The Insolvency Service’s legacy system, so they cannot assure its accuracy. Following data migration they became aware that some legacy data was not compatible with the new case management system and can therefore be unreliable.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL1787 To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the sponsorship of sports teams’ shirts will be included in their review of gambling.

Baroness Barran: The Government has committed to review the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. We will announce further details in due course.

Gambling sponsorship of sports teams must be socially responsible and must never be targeted at children. The government has also made clear that sporting bodies must consider their responsibilities to fans when entering commercial arrangements.

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