The three-year strategy aims to drive work to achieve a “lasting impact” on the reduction of gambling harms.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has launched the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, bringing health bodies, charities, regulators and businesses together for the first time. The strategy will focus on two priority areas: prevention and education — progressing towards a better prevention plan which includes intervention steps— and treatment and support — delivering treatment and support across the country that truly meets the needs of those who require it.
The Commission will maintain its “firm regulatory enforcement approach” to ensure that operators are doing their utmost to support the aims of the strategy. Plans for a new National Research Centre and National Data Repository are also being explored in an effort to facilitate better research.
Stakeholders have all praised the strategy. Mims Davies, Minister for Sports and Civil Society, commented that “increased research, education and treatment” should result in “faster progress made in tackling [problem gambling].” Similarly, Claire Murdoch, national director for mental health at NHS England said “there is increasing evidence of a link between problem gambling and stress, depression and other mental health issues” and that the new strategy is “an important step in the battle to reduce the harm caused” by problem gambling.
The Gambling Commission regularly publishes UK gambling news and statistics, but this new strategy goes one step further than “simply counting problem gamblers” and takes a more holistic approach to the issue. William Moyes, Gambling Commission chairman, recognised the wider benefits of the strategy, saying that ‘It will not just benefit the health and wellbeing of those directly affected and in need of support, but also those such as friends, families, communities and wider society.”
As part of the strategy, Public Health England will conduct its first ever review of gambling-related public health harms in England, exploring the range and scale of these harms, as well as the impact they’re having on the public. The NHS has also backed the new strategy and confirmed that it will spend more resources on treating patients with problem gambling illnesses.
However, Murdoch highlighted that “gambling addiction is not just the NHS’s problem” and that “it is everyone’s responsibility to act.” Moyes echoed the opinion that a collaborative view is vital to the success of this strategy, commenting that “everyone has a role to play to combat gambling harms”.
As part of a renewed focus on consumer safety and harm prevention, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) was renamed the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG) before the new strategy was launched.
The strategy accompanies a number of recent changes to the UK’s gambling industry, such as the changes to Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, the ban on gambling advertisements during sporting events and new age verification rules for gambling sites.
You can find information on the strategy, and track its progress, at www.reducinggamblingharms.org