The UK Gambling Commission is launching a new national strategy, designed to reduce gambling harms over the course of the three year initiative, as well as striving to create a long lasting and far reaching impact.
Uniting health bodies, charities, regulators and businesses in partnership to tackle the issue, the UKGC is calling for action and combined efforts across two key strategic priority areas.
These are prevention and education, including making progress towards a public health prevention plan, and treatment and support, aimed at delivering national treatment and support options.
The UKGC, which stresses it will “continue to take a firm regulatory enforcement approach,” is to also explore the establishment of a new national research centre, with work also being conducted to build a National Data Repository for research purposes.
William Moyes, chairman of the Gambling Commission, explained: “This new strategy will provide us and our partners the opportunity to make faster progress to reduce gambling harms. It will not just benefit the health and well-being of those directly affected and in need of support, but also those such as friends, families, communities and wider society.
“The success of this strategy relies on everyone working together to reduce gambling harms through prevention and education, and treatment and support. Everyone has a role to play to combat gambling harms, and I’m delighted that the health sector, charities and businesses are showing their commitment to get behind the strategy and make it a success.
“We all need to better understand the harms that can be caused by gambling, moving away from simply counting problem gamblers and instead build a greater understanding of the harms experienced. Over the lifetime of the strategy we will better understand the full range of harms and how to protect against them.’’
Furthermore Public Health England will also be conducting the first ever review of evidence on the harms in England relating to gambling, looking at the range and scale of such issues and identifying the impact of gambling on peoples’ health and well-being.
Rosanna O’Connor, director of Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco and Justice at Public Health England, added: “PHE welcomes the strategy’s commitment to taking a public health approach to gambling related harms.
“There is an urgent need to develop a better understanding of these harms and how best to respond to them, and PHE has been commissioned by Government to undertake a comprehensive independent evidence review on the public health harms of gambling.
“In addition, the National Institute for Health Research has commissioned a complementary review of the effectiveness of policies and interventions for reducing gambling-related harm, which will form part of PHE’s report. Our full evidence review is expected in spring next year.”
Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, welcomed the move: “Gambling is a serious public health issue, and we welcome the importance the Gambling Commission has placed on collaboration between organisations to help reduce gambling harms.
“GambleAware has a central role in commissioning core elements of the National Strategy, including the research programme and the emerging National Gambling Treatment Service, working with the NHS and others to help direct people to the right intervention.”