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ABSG Progress Report on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms - Year 3

ABSG - Year three Progress Report on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms

Recommendations for an effective multi-partnership approach to prevention and treatment

We make the following recommendations in relation to other UK Government departments’ responsibilities for public health, treatment and research priorities.

Recommendations to continue development of an effective multi-agency approach

Primary prevention

Our recommendations on upstream population level interventions that aim to keep people safe and reduce the risk experiencing harm:

  • increase local resources for land-based inspections and licensing regimes to help Local Authorities use the powers available to them. Provide local authority area prevalence data (prevalence of participation and prevalence of harm) aligned to existing local authority health profiles (OHID PHOF (opens in a new tab) and its equivalent in Wales and Scotland) so that Local Authorities understand the impacts among their communities, respond in targeted ways and monitor progress
  • public health bodies to provide exemplar case studies to assist local authorities develop local advertising policies that restrict exposure – For example, the effectiveness of Transport for London’s junk food advertising ban (opens in a new tab)
  • at a national level, Government to address risks associated with sport sponsorship and social media promotions (including brand ambassadors, tipsters, role models)
  • increase partnership work between Government Education and Justice Departments, National Union of Students, Office for Students, to develop and deliver independently evaluated prevention education at population level
  • statutory agencies to commission campaigns to reduce risks from gambling which are clearly independent from industry influence (opens in a new tab).

Secondary prevention

Our recommendations on early identification of harm and provision of support and treatment to prevent further harm:

  • embed prevention of gambling-related suicides into NHS-led National Suicide Prevention Strategies for England, Scotland, Wales
  • collaboration between financial institutions, banks and the FCA on work to reduce gambling harms – this should include improving customer support, better early warning metrics, earlier intervention, and establishing data sharing agreements on gambling spend patterns and mortality rates
  • the financial sector should implement ways to strengthen banking blocking tools - as identified by the Money and mental Health Policy Institute (opens in a new tab) – and set targets to help increase uptake
  • identify joint strategies for addressing harms arising from gambling like products and activities (for example synthetic shares, tokens and use of cryptocurrency, and collaborate on independent evaluations and research of these new products
  • expand and fund lived experience and peer support workers across statutory agencies.


Our recommendations on effective treatment to reduce the impacts of harms:

  • build on the PHE evidence review (opens in a new tab) to deliver government-led treatment strategies incorporating evidence-based treatment protocols for addressing gambling harms for individuals and their families, incorporating agreed pathways into treatment and support and integrated IT and case management systems between services - as established for other addiction services (opens in a new tab)
  • expand points of access to treatment that are multi-disciplinary and have agreed outcome measures. Many of those who experience harms have multiple challenges and their care, and the care for their families, needs to address all of these. Integrated Care Systems (ICS) (opens in a new tab) and Provider Collaboratives (opens in a new tab) (England), Integrated Health and Care Boards in Scotland and Public Services Boards in Wales provide an opportunity for integrating gambling treatment and support into statutory service provision, as has been achieved in relation to other conditions such as eating disorders
  • treatment and support should be available at different levels, driven by complexity of need, via NHS treatment services such as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) (opens in a new tab), to specialist gambling services such as the Primary Care Gambling Service, to NHS-led gambling clinics working in collaboration with third sector organisations
  • increase investment for education and awareness raising of gambling harms amongst health and care professionals
  • establish CQC (opens in a new tab) (England) and the Healthcare Inspectorates in Scotland and Wales as the lead agencies on quality assurance of all treatment providers - with ratings published annually in the public domain. Quality assurance should include minimum mandatory standards on staff training and accreditation including safeguarding.


Our recommendations on wider research priorities:

  • UK Research Councils, with support from the Gambling Commission, to progress research on measurement on all aspects of gambling-related harms – with a priority focus on gambling-related suicides. The inclusion of gambling in the National Study of Health and Wellbeing (opens in a new tab) is a positive first step
  • Coroners and Procurator Fiscals to undertake qualitative research on narrative reviews to identify gambling related suicides, and mandate recording of gambling related suicides in coroners’ guidance
  • UK Research Councils (opens in a new tab) to commission independent and registered treatment research including randomised controlled trails, longitudinal and other qualitative research with involvement of people with lived experience in the design and delivery of these projects.


Our recommendations on funding arrangements required to increase progress and impact:

  • move to a more appropriate, independent and sustainable approach to funding prevention and treatment, and reach agreement on how regulatory settlement funds will be used to maintain the momentum created by the National Strategy
  • end the reliance on voluntary donations as the main form of funding for prevention and treatment activity. The current voluntary funding model means that funding is ad-hoc, under-resourced and lacks independence. The Gambling Commission should recommend that the system of voluntary contributions is brought to an end.
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