Gambling-related harms as a public health issue

In 2016/17, GambleAware fundraised £8 million from both the British land-based gambling industry and global online gambling organisations that provide services to the British market. 85% of distributed funds are spent on treatment and harm prevention activities.

GambleAware's position is that it is right that the gambling industry stands first in line to contribute to research, treatment and harm prevention services. However, Public Health England, NHS Foundation Trusts and all local health commissioning agencies ought also to provide treatment and harm prevention services for problem gambling alongside services for those struggling with alcohol- and drug-related problems.

In December 2016, we published a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research "Cards on the table: The cost to government of problem gambling in Great Britain" which identified for the first time the quantifiable direct cost to government of problem gambling in six specific areas where suitable data was available, in the range from £260 million - £1.16 billion.

The Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG) has published a position paper on the importance of gambling-related harm as a public health issue. This paper was the first step towards one of the priority objectives set out in the National Responsible Gambling Strategy published last April.  The paper is intended to help bodies with a formal responsibility for population health to understand the potential implications of gambling-related harm, and to encourage them to have policies that are effective in addressing this harm.

According to Sir Christopher Kelly, ABSG's former Chairman, “Positioning the minimisation of gambling-related harm as a priority issue with public health agencies has long been an ambition of the Board. We hope that this paper acts as a call to action and encourages those agencies to engage in a dialogue with us over the next few months and to accept their responsibilities for reducing gambling-related harm. This is a significant agenda and one which requires a collective and coordinated response.”