This week has seen two new initiatives announced by the Gambling Commission.
1 How gambling fits into people’s lives
The first arises from in-depth qualitative research commissioned by the Commission to better understand how gambling fits into people’s lives, the findings of which are to be shared in a series of blogs that the Commission intends should “encourage interested parties to consider and discuss the fresh perspectives offered … and create conversation about how future developments in the gambling industry can deliver fairer and safer gambling”.
The first blog entitled “How gambling fits into people’s lives” (that can be downloaded below) addresses the key themes emerging from the research. The Commission says that these include the following:
- Most people perceive their own gambling behaviour as ‘normal’ and see others as at risk of problems
- Gambling attitudes shift slowly but behaviour shows greater variation over time. This is a result of shifting from a cold state of consideration into a hot state of play.
- Most people aim to gamble responsibly, but can still be vulnerable to occasional hot state episodes of play
- Responsibility for safer gambling is felt to sit across consumers, gambling companies and Government alike
- Safer gambling strategies need to consider the nature of hot state play
You can download below a PowerPoint presentation by 2CV the agency that conducted the research for the Commission. Slide 43 of that presentation quotes the following comment made by David Clifton (in relation to the responsible gambling campaign “When the fun stops, stop“) when he was delivering the annual Gaming Regulators European Forum lecture on 5 February 2019: “Read literally, this message can appear to suggest stopping gambling only at the point when harm actually starts to occur”.
The Commission will welcome feedback and invites those wishing to ask it further questions to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 Research into gambling-related suicide results in joint work with Samaritans
The second initiative constitutes reiteration by the Gambling Commission of its continued commitment to reduce gambling harms as analysis of 12 year-old research data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey shows a connection between problem gambling and suicidal thoughts or attempts.
The data found that 5% of people who had attempted suicide in the previous year were problem gamblers, with a further 5% classed as ‘at risk’ gamblers. This trend persisted after other factors such as mental health and substance abuse were taken into account. 19% of problem gamblers had also thought about suicide in the previous year.
Commenting on three reports arising from this analysis (commissioned by GambleAware and forming part of the Commission’s research programme for the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms) Neil McArthur, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, has said:
This research is based on data from 2007 but nonetheless the findings clearly show a connection between suicide and gambling, something that has a real and devastating impact on people’s lives. Whilst further research and more timely data collection is essential, we are taking further action now to protect people from the risk of gambling harm. As a result of this research, the Commission and Samaritans will work together to bolster the existing requirements on gambling businesses to identify those at risk and take action to address and reduce harm. However, progress cannot be made by us alone, we need to work together to implement the priorities outlined in the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, and the key recommendations of this research. This is vital to ensuring we have the best research, prevention and treatment services available for vulnerable individuals, their families, friends and communities.
The Commission says that:
- the work programme which it and Samaritans have agreed to develop “will include guidance to sit alongside the Commission’s requirements for the gambling industry to ensure operators are responding appropriately to risks around suicide” and
- with funding provided by GambleAware, the gambling support charity GamCare will pilot an extension to the National Gambling helpline hours to 24 hours a day for a period of two years to better support vulnerable customers.
The Commission’s website posting in relation to this initiative, entitled “Gambling Commission restates firm commitment to reducing harm as research into suicidal behaviour is published”, can be downloaded below. The three research documents can be accessed below, together with GambleAware’s executive summary of the key findings and recommendations.
- Report 1: Problem gambling and suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and non-suicidal self-harm in England evidence from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007
- Report 2: Exploring problem gambling, loneliness and lifetime suicidal behaviours a cross-sectional study using the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007
- Report 3: Scoping Current Evidence and Evidence-Gaps in Research on Gambling-Related Suicide
- GambleAware’s Executive Summary (that can also be downloaded below).