Publishing its ‘National Strategy’ on gambling harm reductions, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has called on its widest network of stakeholders to combat gambling harms.
Presenting its ‘three-year strategy’, the UKGC details that it will coordinate with UK health bodies, charities, communities, regulators and wider businesses on tackling problem gambling.
The Commission’s new strategy has established two strategic priorities in its mandate:
- Prevention and Education – making significant progress towards a clear public health prevention plan which includes the right mix of interventions.
- Treatment and Support – delivering truly national treatment and support options that meet the needs of users.
Focusing on prevention and treatment, the Commission details that it will emphasise its efforts on gambling harm research and evaluation, improving ‘widespread adoption’ of functions/directives which are deemed to work.
In addition, the UKGC confirms that it is exploring the creation of a new ‘National Research Centre’ on problem gambling, undertaken to develop a ‘National Data Repository’ for research purposes.
Updating stakeholders, William Moyes, Chairman of the Gambling Commission, stated that the new strategy would help develop better support networks, moving away from ‘simply counting problem gamblers’.
“This new strategy will provide us and our partners the opportunity to make faster progress to reduce gambling harms. 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.
“The success of this strategy relies on everyone working together to reduce gambling harms through prevention and education, and treatment and support. Everyone has a role to play to combat gambling harms and I’m delighted that the health sector, charities and businesses are showing their commitment to get behind the strategy and make it a success.”
The strategy update has been backed by the UK government, which echoed the UKGC’s support for greater stakeholder participation, across all levels of UK business and society.
Minister for Sport and Civil Society Mims Davies said: “Protecting people from harm should be at the heart of every gambling business. Addiction can ruin lives and it is vital that those who need help are given the right treatment at the right time.
“The Gambling Commission’s strategy reflects our clear expectation that the whole sector must come together to reduce problem gambling and the harm it does to people and their families. Through increased research, education and treatment I want to see faster progress made in tackling this issue.”
Backing the Commission’s strategy, the NHS confirms that it will commit increased resources to mental health services for patients with problem gambling illnesses.
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 this is an important step in the battle to reduce the harm caused.”
In addition, Public Health England will conduct its first ever review of evidence on the public health harms in England relating to gambling.
The study will look at the range and scale of gambling harms and identify the impact of gambling on peoples’ health and wellbeing.
Rosanna O’Connor, Director of Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco and Justice at Public Health England, added: “PHE welcomes the Strategy’s commitment to taking a public health approach to gambling-related harms.
“There is an urgent need to develop a better understanding of these harms and how best to respond to them and PHE has been commissioned by Government to undertake a comprehensive independent evidence review on the public health harms of gambling.”