GambleAware is wholly independent and has a framework agreement with the Gambling Commission to deliver the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms within the context of arrangements based on voluntary donations from the gambling industry. Guided by a wholly independent expert board of trustees, the majority of whom work in the health sector, GambleAware has an established range of governance processes and procedures that ensures the industry has no influence over any commissioning decisions.

GambleAware regards gambling as a public health issue and thus reducing gambling harms requires a public health approach taking account all three aspects of prevention:

  • Primary or Universal – aimed at the whole population to promote a safer environment
  • Secondary or Selective – aimed at groups with a prevalence of suffering gambling harms
  • Tertiary or Indicated – aimed at individuals suffering gambling disorder

Guided by this public health model, we commission integrated prevention services on a national scale and in partnership with expert organisations and agencies, including the NHS, across three areas of activity:

Commissioning the National Gambling Treatment Service

  • The National Gambling Treatment Service brings together a National Gambling Helpline and a network of locally-based providers across Britain to deliver a range of treatment services, including brief intervention, counselling (delivered either face-to-face or online), residential programmes and psychiatrist-led care.
  • NHS-based treatment – The National Gambling Treatment Service includes a psychiatrist-led service provided by the Central and North-West London NHS Foundation Trust that GambleAware has funded for a decade. A second NHS service commissioned by GambleAware has recently opened, delivered by Leeds & York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with GamCare. These services are designed to help people with more serious and complex needs, including people receiving NHS treatment for other conditions.
  • In Leeds, we have been working alongside statutory and voluntary sector agencies to support a place-based approach for the local population, and to map care pathways and develop referral routes into treatment, including self-referral via the National Gambling Helpline.
  • We believe this initiative is a concrete example of the right partnership approach, and forms the basis of the commitment in the NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan, 2019-24 (pp 40-41) in which GambleAware is recognised as an NHSE partner in relation to the NHS commitment to opening 15 specialist problem gambling clinics in the next five years. Similar discussions are underway in Scotland and in Wales.
  • Local engagement to develop local care pathways is backed up by national initiatives, for example GambleAware has funded the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) to develop an e-learning module for primary care staff to develop their understanding of gambling disorder and the treatment that is available.
  • In the 12 months to 31 March 2019, the National Gambling Treatment Service treated 10,000 people and the Helpline received 30,000 calls and on-line chats. Waiting times are short, and compare favourably to NHS IAPT mental health services. Routine monitoring and evaluation demonstrates that current treatment is effective.
  • GambleAware has commissioned ViewIt UK to begin independent collection and analysis of output and outcome data with more granular detail. Data will be validated by checks and procedures similar to those that fulfil that function for the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System on behalf of Public Health England (PHE), and the system made available to NHS.
  • Treatment for gambling disorder is not a regulated activity under the legislation which governs the work of the Care Quality Commission (CQC). In conjunction with the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC), GambleAware is exploring the scope for an equivalent level of assurance.

Public health campaigns & practical support to local services

  • Producing public health campaigns on a national scale to support local services and to lead on awareness and behaviour change campaigns such as Bet Regret – the preventative public health campaign aimed at encouraging regular sports bettors to think twice about gambling when drunk, bored or chasing losses.
  • We also provide practical support to GP services, debt and other advice agencies, mental health services, prisons, military personnel, professional sports, schools and youth workers.
  • Other partnerships include working with PHE and the RSPH on the Make Every Conversation Count+ (MECC+) initiative, as well as with Citizens Advice on training debt advisers across England and Wales to identify and offer support to people who may be suffering gambling harms.
  • Following a successful pilot scheme in secondary schools in England by Demos and the PSHE Association, resources to support PSHE teaching are available on the GambleAware website.
  • Following a successful pilot project in Scotland, GambleAware has commissioned Fast Forward to make it possible for every young person in Scotland to have access to gambling education and prevention opportunities. Our plan is to evaluate this programme in 2020 and, if warranted, subsequently commission similar national programmes in Wales and in England.
  • We are funding RSPH to establish a Gambling Health Alliance to bring together a wide range of professional health-related bodies to promote greater awareness and share perspectives on preventing gambling harms.
  • Elsewhere, we are pleased to be supporting PHE on their recent mental health initiative, Every Mind Matters and welcome their promotion of information about gambling and where to find help and advice.
  • GambleAware also runs the website BeGambleAware.org which helps 4.2 million visitors a year, and signposts to a wide range of support services.

Commissioning research & evaluation to improve knowledge of what works in prevention

  • A significant programme of over 40 research projects includes an evaluation of the National Gambling Treatment Service, a literature review of evidence of effective treatments, a gap analysis and needs assessment for treatment, and further work to promote the voice of people with lived experience.
  • All research is peer-reviewed and we follow Research Council policy regarding research ethics, encouraging and funding open access publication in academic journals and data reuse. 
  • GambleAware is an approved National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) non-commercial partner, ensuring appropriate research studies funded by GambleAware are entitled to access NHS support via the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN).

Strategic Plans

Strategic Delivery Plan 2018-20

GambleAware has published a Strategic Delivery Plan for 2018-20, which makes clear its strategic delivery priorities for the next two years.

GambleAware is working to double its annual expenditure to £16 million, taking into account recent settlement payments made by operators following Gambling Commission enforcement actions.

A core strategic aim is to collaborate with national partners such as Citizens’ Advice, Royal Society for Public Health and others to help maximise the effectiveness and efficiency in the services and activities we commission and fund. Evaluating the impact of its funding will inform future funding decisions.

GambleAware Strategy 2016-21

GambleAware published its 5-year strategy in November 2016, reinforcing its commitment to help those suffering from gambling-related harms by funding research, education and treatment services.

The strategy reviews the charity’s objective to reduce gambling-related harms and treat those who suffer. GambleAware is seeking to increase its funding to £10m a year as it calls for all those who profit from gambling, not just the gambling industry, but also advertisers, lotteries and professional sports clubs, to contribute to research, education and treatment services. Following the appointment of Kate Lampard CBE as chair of trustees, the strategy demonstrates how the charity will act as an independent voice in a controversial field and provide sufficient help and support to those who need it.


Working with Government

GambleAware works co-operatively across Government:

  • Member of joint-working group co-chaired by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC)
  • Member of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group
  • Collaborating with the Ministry of Defence in relation to gambling as a health issue for serving military, veterans and their families.
  • Established advisory boards in Wales and Scotland to help guide our future commissioning plans in those nations.