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The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board’s advice on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms 2019–2022

The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board’s advice on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms 2019–2022

  1. Contents
  2. Part 3 - Prevention
  3. Facilitators and barriers to success

Facilitators and barriers to success

The current evidence base on what works in gambling-related harms prevention is thin.30 The development, testing, and delivery of a prevention strategy will therefore require the joint efforts of a range of stakeholders – voluntary sector organisations working with high risk groups, local authorities with responsibility for public health, operators with their real time access to gamblers, financial institutions who can help set limits on gambling losses, the regulator and central government.

The success of some prevention measures will depend heavily on the industry. Progress in this area has not yet gone far enough, nor been sufficiently embedded in common practice across all parts of the industry. The Gambling Commission could encourage faster progress by:

  • further development of robust Assurance Statements as a means of encouraging operators, at board as well as executive level, to reflect on their approach to preventing harmful gambling and to set out the actions they are taking in a formal document against which they can be held to account
  • providing greater clarity about those harm-prevention activities which it wants to be piloted and tested, focusing attention on those with the greatest chance of success
  • emphasising that it expects these activities to be evaluated. Operators should not be able to say they have taken steps to prevent harm without showing evidence about its impact. The Gambling Commission could usefully review the steps already taken to explain good evaluation practice to operators and identify what else could be done to improve matters. Central Government and the Gambling Commission should lead by example by ensuring that evaluation is embedded in all their own activities relating to gambling, including the new strategy
  • mandating through the licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) any proportionate harm-prevention activities which have been shown to work
  • continuing to apply the precautionary principle. If the industry cannot demonstrate it is taking effective action, the presumption should be to restrict practices where there are reasonable concerns they might lead to harm
  • continuing to shift the focus of safer gambling from problem gamblers to one which is relevant to all gamblers. It is possible some people who could benefit from gambling management tools are deterred from using them as they are perceived as only for people with an identified ‘problem’
  • ensuring sufficient funding is available, especially to fund activities such as public health campaigns and activities which need to be taken on by agencies new to gambling-harms prevention, such as voluntary sector organisations.


30 Though there may be more to learn from the experience of other jurisdictions, like Victoria, Australia, which has a more well-developed prevention strategy. The National Institute for Health Research is shortly to commence an evidence review which will provide an opportunity to explore these approaches in greater depth.

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Universal prevention activities
Next section
Families and others affected by someone else’s gambling
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