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Progress Report on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms

ABSG progress report 2020

  1. Contents
  2. Research infrastructure

Research infrastructure

The Strategy makes a clear commitment to developing an evidence-based approach to harms reduction. There are outstanding challenges with both infrastructure and delivery still to be addressed.

  • Independence from voluntary funding – as noted above, voluntary funding from industry is not optimal for research to inform the reduction of gambling harms.
  • Quality of research – ABSG’s advice on the National Strategy highlighted the opportunities to make more use of the existing research council infrastructure to fund and quality assure gambling research and ensure adequate peer review and quality assurance. Greater strategic involvement by funding bodies such as the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Medical Research Council (MRC), Wellcome, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is essential. These funders are well-recognised globally as leaders in health and public health research, have robust governance and processes in place, and extensive expert and reviewer networks to support the development and delivery of high-quality research. Early conversations with the NIHR/DHSC, MRC and Wellcome have identified a strong interest in gambling research and a commitment to developing a robust evidence base around both participation and risk of harm, and inequalities associated with these. Continuing to develop these collaborations will make an important contribution to research infrastructure.
  • Greater collaboration with the academic community – There is a need for more collaboration to help translate research into policy. In November 2019, the Commission and ABSG held a forum for academics from across GB to discuss this. There was consensus that progress on this would be useful. The Gambling Commission is responsible for the next steps to achieve this. Collaboration through existing ‘research into practice’ initiatives such as the regional NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARC)35 and the regional Academic Health Science Networks36 would also serve to engage with a wider group of public health academics working to address other addictions and health impacts.

Case Study 2: Gambling Research Exchange Ontario (GREO)37

Based in Ontario, Canada, GREO has established a strong reputation for knowledge exchange and dissemination of findings from academic literature. In June 2019, GREO obtained funding from a regulatory settlement to provide support to the National Strategy.

Since then, they have provided dedicated support focused on the Research to Inform Action and Evaluation enablers. This has led to a number of outputs, including:

  • Developing a micro-site providing plain language summaries of the latest research on reducing gambling harms38
  • Creation of a webpage: ‘Resources for Safer Gambling during COVID-19’ assembling evidence related to gambling behaviour, mental health, and wellbeing in nine key topic areas39.
  • Developing resources to embed a culture of evaluation that supports capacity across all partners to understand what works.
  • Completing a rapid evidence review: ‘Effective Treatment and Support for Problem Gambling’ to inform national treatment provision.

GEO has also delivered ‘evidence exchanges’ on the following topics to support policy development and to help inform stakeholders in the National Strategy:40

  • Responsible gambling on regulated and unregulated online gambling sites (Aug 2019)
  • Scratch card near-miss outcomes (Oct 2019)
  • Proportion of revenue from problem gambling (Nov 2019)
  • Stigma and gambling (Dec 2019)
  • Jurisdictional scan on systems of funding for gambling research (Jan 2019)
  • Warning labels and messaging for youth gamblers (Mar-2020).


35 Applied research collaborations (ARC), NIHR

36 Academic Health Science Networks, website – [add citation for Wales and Scotland equivalent]


38 National Strategy Microsite - GREO

39 Resources for Safer Gambling during COVID-19, GREO

40 Evidence centre - GREO

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