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Feature article - New National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms

The National Strategy to Reduce Gambling harms was launched on 25 April in London. Launch events will be held in Wales and Scotland in May.

In his opening remarks the Commission’s Chair notes that 'Successful delivery of the strategy will…require collective effort and engagement from a wide range of stakeholders across Scotland, England and Wales in the health and social care, financial, education and charitable sectors. In shaping this strategy, we have reached out to a broad range of people and organisations who have an interest and a voice in reducing gambling harms’.

This multi-agency approach is outlined: “Reducing gambling harms means taking a broader focus than simply encouraging individuals to gamble responsibly, and this strategy sets out collectively how we can adopt a public health approach to reducing gambling harms. A public health approach to reducing gambling harms in this context is not solely – or even primarily – about health care provision. It is about adopting practices that bring benefit at the population level, as well as at the individual, in order to prevent gambling harms from occurring. It means recognising that a broad range of measures must usually be taken by different people and organisations to address what can often be a complex mix of harmful consequences.”

This strategy sets out how, by focusing combined efforts on two strategic priorities of prevention and education and treatment and support, we can collectively have the most impact on reducing gambling harms:

  • Prevention and education: To make significant progress towards a collective and clear prevention plan applying the right mix of interventions.
  • Treatment and support: To make significant progress towards truly national treatment and support options that meet the needs of current and future service users.

These inter-related strategic priorities are delivered through four enablers; regulation and oversight, collaboration, evaluation and research to inform action.

Of particular interest to local authorities is the following: ‘To support the implementation of national public health plans, and to provide an evidence-based toolkit for use by local authorities, their public health teams and other organisations. The Gambling Commission and licensing authorities work in partnership through shared regulation of gambling premises and will use the findings and evidence generated through the developing public health model to build on existing toolkits for gambling, using an evidence-based approach. We will also support the evaluation of the impact of public health plans.’

Considerable progress has already been made in developing this work and details can be found in the Commission’s Public Health toolkit. 

We also recently announced that our independent advisors, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB), has been renamed as the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG) and a new chair Dr Anna van der Gaag CBE has taken over the position from Sir Christopher Kelly who has come to the end of his tenure after six years in the role. 

The ABSG will provide independent advice to the Commission as it works to implement the new strategy over the next three years and ensure progress is made on reducing gambling harms.

The RGSB published a final progress report in March which provides an assessment on the success and implementation of the 2016-19 National Responsible Gambling Strategy.  It identifies that progress has been made in key areas – including Public Health England announcing a review of gambling-related harms, and the NHS 10-year plan identifying the need for action. 

Brighton event

We are hosting an event on the morning of 19th June in Brighton to explain the new strategy and the public health approach to harmful gambling. Delegates will be hearing from other local authorities as to how they are approaching this as well as the regional treatment provider and the new offer from the local Citizens Advice centre. It is designed to be action orientated – enabling delegates to discuss and develop their own implementation plans as the morning develops.  The event will be of interest to public health teams, licensing, social housing, debt advice, mental health, police/probation, student union/university as well as those offering work coaching.   

For a full agenda and to reserve a place please email RBurkitt@gamblingcommission.gov.uk  

Next: Advice and guidance updates