Measuring gambling-related harms – a framework for action

The Gambling Commission has published a report that contains what it describes as “a ground-breaking approach to understanding the full range of harms gambling can have on society“. The report can be downloaded below.

The research was led by Dr Heather Wardle, on behalf of the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) and is the result of close collaboration between the Gambling Commission, GambleAware as funding body, and RGSB. The report calls for views on how the social cost of gambling-related harms can be measured and better understood.

It sets out methodology that could be used to quantify the impact gambling can have on relationships, finances and health and seeks to:

  • agree a definition of gambling-related harms that can be used by policy makers and public health officials.
  • explore how the social and economic impact of gambling-related harms can be better understood, measured and monitored.
  • set a framework for action that considers how the impact of harms can be felt by individuals, families and communities.
  • identify the most effective way to estimate the social cost of gambling-related harms.

Gambling Commission Chief Executive, Neil McArthur is quoted as saying: “While the majority of consumers can enjoy gambling without experiencing harm, we cannot forget the devastating effects it can have on some individuals, families and communities. This report shows significant progress in understanding those effects and measuring the impacts on wider society and the economy as a whole. We do not see this as a definitive position – it’s very much a work in progress. We encourage public health officials, academics, the industry and the public to feed back on the report and work with us to set a framework that can help prevent harm to consumers.”

Commenting on her report, Dr Wardle says: “This report is a dramatic step forward in our understanding of gambling. It represents a sea change in thinking about gambling as it recognises that gambling isn’t something that affects just a few individuals but extends far beyond them to affect their families, communities and society”.

Marc Etches, Chief Executive at GambleAware has added: “Problem gambling is a public health issue that can have serious economic and social consequences not only for individual gamblers but also family, friends, communities and society. This is why this project, led by Dr Heather Wardle of RGSB and funded by GambleAware, is so important. We need urgently to improve our understanding of what gambling, and its wide-reaching knock-on effects, is costing us.”