RGSB advice on National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms 2019-22

The Gambling Commission has published the Advice it has received from the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board on the new National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms (i.e. the successor to the current National Responsible Gambling Strategy) which is to be published by the Commission in April this year.

That Advice (that can be downloaded below) contains a range of recommendations on (a) what the RGSB considers should be the priorities to reduce gambling harm and (b) the arrangements necessary to implement the strategy effectively. Those recommendations are condensed by the RGSB into the following conclusions (incorporating the paragraph numbers within the Advice for ease of reference):

56. We have argued that there is both a compelling need for a different approach in the new strategy to reduce gambling-related harms and a real opportunity to use it to make a significant difference to the volume of harm experienced by the population of Great Britain.

57. We have put forward the key features of such a strategy. In our view it requires:

i. Changes in mindset – much greater focus on harms as a whole, less emphasis on problem gambling prevalence rates, effective follow through on the notion of gambling as a public health issue, to be addressed in the same way as other public health issues, and greater recognition of the influence of product and environment as well as individual behaviour.

ii. Changes in organisation – responsibility for the commissioning and oversight of treatment to be taken by the UK health departments, following an independent review, and responsibility for commissioning research underpinning the strategy to be taken directly by the Gambling Commission.

iii. Changes in the approach to prevention – a more coherent framework in which priorities can be established in relation to need and effectiveness and interventions made at a variety of different levels, consistent with a public health approach. In the short-term it is most practical for this to be overseen by the Gambling Commission, but ideally government departments are best placed to initiate action from a broad range of agencies, particularly those outside the gambling industry.

iv. Changes in implementation – an effective delivery plan, involving a wide range of organisations and experts by experience, guidance and direction from the Gambling Commission, and industry and others taking further steps to apply and evaluate what works.

v. Changes in funding – A compulsory levy to provide an increased volume of stable and predictable funding.

58. Some of these things could be done fairly quickly. Others will take more time to implement, particularly those involving institutional changes. The implementation plan will need to give careful thought to how the transition should be managed.

59. There will be changes in our own role. We will shortly no longer be the ‘owner’ of the National Strategy and the strategy itself is to be renamed. Our current title – the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board – will soon become inappropriate. We propose a new name is agreed to better reflect our role contributing to achieving a Great Britain free from the consequences of gambling-related harms.

The Gambling Commission is taking responsibility for delivery of the next three years’ strategy. The manner in which the Commission has welcomed the Advice indicates (unsurprisingly given that the RGSB is its closest advisor) that it will be heavily relied upon when the Commission also considers comments received from consumers, charities and industry stakeholders in response to the Commission’s National Responsible Gambling Strategy public consultation that ran from December 2018 until 15 February 2019.

Commenting on the RGSB Advice, Helen Rhodes, programme director at the Gambling Commission, has said:

We fully welcome RGSB’s advice on the new National Strategy, and will carefully consider these recommendations from our expert advisors on how best to make lasting progress to reduce gambling harms. Alongside the consultation responses we’ve received from a variety of stakeholders, RGSB’s advice is a significant step to develop and launch a strategy to deliver the greatest possible impact to further reduce gambling harms.

Sir Christopher Kelly, chair of the RGSB, has said:

We welcome the Commission taking responsibility for delivery of the next strategy and ensuring adequate and appropriate steps are taken to reduce gambling-related harms from the wide range of stakeholders from whom action will be required. We believe that there is a significant opportunity to make real progress over the next few years. We have made clear in our advice, however, that we think success will require changes in mindset, partnership arrangements, in the approaches to prevention and implementation, and in funding.

UPDATE: It has been confirmed by the Gambling Commission that the new National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms will be launched on 25 April 2019.