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Reducing Gambling Harms resources

This toolkit provides a wide ranging guide to the national, regional and local work and evidence currently available for licensing, public health and other frontline staff in addressing gambling harm and those vulnerable to gambling harm.

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The Commission's position

A new National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms has been launched. The success of this strategy relies on everyone working together to reduce gambling harms through prevention and education, and treatment and support. 

We have published a briefing paper for local authorities and local public health providers setting out a rationale for gambling harm being treated as a public health issue as well as a quick guide for licensing, public health and related teams to explain the benefits of working together to address gambling harms.

National initiatives across GB

The LGA and Public Health England have published a guidance note which explains the need for a ‘whole council’ approach to tackling gambling related harm.

Two reports from Bangor University consider how gambling can be addressed in a public health context and include a series of recommendations as to how this might be implemented. 

The second chapter of the Chief Medical Officer for Wales 2017/18 report Gambling with our Health, focuses on the emerging public health issue of gambling related harm in Wales.

We have circulated a summary of the Scottish Health Boards Report highlighting key gambling data by health board area. This draws on data from the Scottish Health Survey 2016.

Gambling is a subject which is increasingly interesting public health teams. The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board published a paper in December 2016 on gambling related harm as a public health issue.

The Commission the LGA and Public Health England have written to Directors of Public Health in England encouraging them to engage with gambling harm and those who are vulnerable. A similar letter, jointly signed with the WLGA, has also been sent to Directors of Public Health in Wales.

The Westminster Government has now set out its priorities for Public Health England for 2018/19. For the first time this includes reference to gambling harm (page 6).

The new NHS Long Term Plan, for the first time, includes a commitment to address gambling harm.  The Plan commits to ‘expanding geographical coverage of NHS services for people with serious gambling problems, and work with partners to tackle the problem at source.’ (pg43)

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is to establish a Gambling Health Alliance (GHA) with the support of GambleAware. The new Alliance will seek to ensure that gambling and the harms which arise from it are placed on an equal footing with other major public health challenges, focussing on prevention, early intervention, and increased community engagement.

Building the evidence base

The Commission, in collaboration with the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board and Gamble Aware have published a report looking at how we might understand the range of harms gambling can have on individuals, families, communities and society.

The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board have published their research programme for 2019 – 2022. It will be focused on 6 thematic areas.

Evidence indicates that particular groups are more vulnerable to gambling related harm than others, for example, mental health issues, homelessness and other addictive behaviours.

    • Citizens Advice has published research into the causes and impacts of problem gambling and gambling related harms. The study estimates that for every problem gambler, between 6 and 10 additional people are directly affected.

    • A pilot study of people held in custody suites identified 13% were at risk of, or experiencing, gambling harm.

    • Public Health England has published their health profiles for 2017. Health profiles highlight local issues and priorities for Health and Wellbeing Boards.

  • The organisation Money and Mental Health have published a range of documents specifically focused on gambling, including one which looks at gambling behaviour and mental health.

  • The IPPR think tank have produced a report exploring the fiscal costs of problem gambling to the UK economy.


Local initiatives

Stockton’s Adult Social Care and Health Select Committee have published their report reviewing gambling in the borough. The focus is on gambling related harm and includes a series of recommendations about how to address the issue, mitigate risks and promote a safer approach to gambling.

Research by Leeds City Council identified a number of serious issues as to how gambling related support was being delivered, a lack of screening for gambling harm as well as a lack of awareness about the services available to frontline staff. 

Warrington Council’s Protecting the Most Vulnerable Committee has drawn together a cross agency multi-disciplinary group to address gambling harms in the Borough and develop pathways for those that need support.

Wirral Council’s Director of Public Health has published their Annual Report (2018) which focuses on harmful gambling. In particular it looks at the impact on local residents and the importance of the issue in a public health context.

Public Health England (Yorkshire and Humberside) held a gambling masterclass looking at the different ways in which problem gambling and public health relate to each other. The presentations andassociated documents are available on their website.

In Brighton and Hove Public Health contributed significantly in the development of a Local Area Profile, or heat map, to identify social groups and geographic locations where gambling risk/vulnerability is greatest.

Harrow Council have used their website to highlight the issue of problem gambling and where citizens can obtain help and support.

Swindon Council have conducted a Rapid Health Needs Assessment to establish the scale and costs of gambling harms in the city as well as a broader range of factors to help them take a public health approach to the issue.

What tools are available?

Newport Citizens Advice have published a financial capability toolkit which provides guidance and information for problem gambling clients.

GambleAware has published research to further our understanding of the relationship between gambling and homelessness, and to develop three instruments to be used by practitioners working with the homeless which can assist them in identifying and responding to gambling-related harms in this population.

NHS Choices have an online section offering advice and help for people who think they may have a problem gambling issue.

GambleAware has produced a brief intervention guide for frontline workers to address risks and harms related to problematic gambling.

The Commission has published a briefing note suggesting steps that licensing and public health teams can take in developing a ‘whole Council’ approach to gambling harm.

The Royal Society for Public Health have developed an e-learning resource to assist front line staff in providing a brief intervention to address the risks and harms associated with problem gambling

Safeguarding and gambling

Sheffield Safeguarding Board has developed an extensive range of materials for use both by gambling operators and other agencies concerned with protecting the young and the vulnerable. 

East Riding Council’s website provides detailed advice to gambling operators regarding their expectations of protecting the young and vulnerable and CSE issues.