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Progress Report on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms

ABSG progress report 2020

  1. Contents
  2. Lack of agreed ‘baseline’ data set for measuring gambling harms

Lack of agreed ‘baseline’ data set for measuring gambling harms

The National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms recognises that the concept ‘problem gambling/gamblers’ does not lend itself to expressing the broader social and economic causes, manifestations and impacts of harms from gambling to individuals, as well as their friends, families, communities, employers and financial institutions.

As stated earlier, measuring harms is difficult, but progress has been made in recent years. There are a number of detailed frameworks that define gambling harms26,27,28. However, now that gambling is recognised as a public health issue, participation and harm should be reported as key public health indicators at a level useful to local authorities. In order to achieve this in England and Wales30,31, we recommend that their respective Public Health Outcomes Frameworks include gambling related metrics and that Scotland use their own well-established public health outcomes to obtain comparable data32.

Focused research can further contribute to much needed new intelligence. Longitudinal cohorts can provide information on a range of broader social, cultural and economic influences and impacts. A scoping study for a longitudinal study has been completed to explore this33 and there are also opportunities to utilise existing UK longitudinal cohorts34. Adequate funding and appropriate research governance are now required so these next steps can be taken.

There is also a need for epidemiological research to ensure that local level data is collected on gambling participation, attitudes and impacts as part of local authorities’ wider public health responsibilities. Local data is most likely to lead to local action to address harms. Reducing inequality is a core function of public health and local information on age, sex, ethnic, geographic and income differences in participation and risk of harm is urgently needed to underpin effective prevention strategies and support the development of targeted and effective interventions.

Establishing baseline data is key to measuring progress and requires endorsement and support from government departments, regulators and third sector organisations.


26 Understanding gambling related harm: a proposed definition, conceptual framework, and taxonomy of harms, Langham et al, BMC Public Health, 2016

27 Measuring gambling-related harms: a framework for action, Wardle et al, July 2018

28 Gambling-related harm evidence review, Public Health England, 2020

29 Measuring gambling-related harms: Methodologies and Data Scoping Study, McDaid and Patel, October 2019

30 Public health Outcomes Framework (opens in new tab), Public health England

31 Our Strategic Plan 2018-21, Public Health Wales

32 The Scottish Public Health Observatory, Public Health Information for Scotland

33 Longitudinal study of gambling, Natcen, April 2019

34 Longitudinal study of gambling, Natcen, April 2019

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