GambleAware publishes breakdown report on problem gambling costs to UK Government

marc etches
Marc Etches

Industry charitable trust GambleAware has today published an official report which ‘outlines the estimated cost that problem gambling has on the UK Government’. The report estimates that the figure is between £260 million and £1.2 billion a year. 

Working in-conjunction with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), GambleAware breaks down cost impact to the UK government by sector relating to public health, welfare and employment, housing and criminal justice.

Presenting the report Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware commented on the research undertaken

“Problem gambling is an issue which affects millions of people across Britain each day. We’re working hard to raise awareness of the issue and to help people see the true cost of gambling addiction. GambleAware is keen to put problem gambling on the public health agenda, as it’s no different to any other kind of addiction. It’s our job to raise awareness of the issue and to let people know that there is help available. We fund treatment centres across the UK and urge anyone who thinks they or a loved one has a problem to get in touch, or call our national gambling helpline for free, confidential advice”

GambleAware specifies that despite the cost undertaken by the government, it believes that between 0.4-1.1% of the UK adult population are considered problem gamblers. The breakdown given by GambleAware is as follows;

Health:

  • hospital inpatient services (£140 million–£610 million)
  • mental health primary care (£10–£40 million)
  • secondary mental health services (£30 million–£110 million)

Welfare & employment:

  • JSA claimant costs and lost labour tax receipts (£40 million–£160 million)

Housing

  • statutory homelessness applications (£10 million–£60 million)

Criminal justice

  • incarcerations (£40 million–£190 million)

Issuing its report, GambleAware further notes that certain environmental or social factors such as unemployment or mental health issues often play a significant role too. Report demographics including certain ages, genders, and incomes all show correlations between the likelihood of someone developing a gambling problem. GambleAware points to the following factors

  • those who are aged 16-24 are the least likely to gamble, but, within that age bracket, those who do, are more likely to be problem gamblers
  • men are five times more likely to develop a problem than women
  • those who are in the lowest income bracket are less likely to gamble than those in the highest but more likely to have develop a problem, and
  • gambling prevalence is higher in those who are unemployed, homeless, black and Asian.

Craig Thorley, research fellow, from IPPR, commented on the research

“For many, problem gambling is a hidden addiction. IPPR’s research shows the scale of the challenge for Britain’s public services for the first time. This should be a wakeup call to government. We need a proper strategy to deal with this issue, just like we’ve had for other public health issues such as alcoholism.”

“This strategy must make sure that effective services are available to help those affected, and also consider whether we have the right regulations and prevention strategies in place to stop those at risk of problem gambling from being pulled over the edge.”

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