Measuring gambling-related harms among children and young people

As part of its National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, the Gambling Commission has today announced on its website publication of a new framework to understand gambling harms experienced by children and young people. The framework document (entitled “Measuring gambling-related harms among children and young people”) can be downloaded below.

In light of the title of the framework document, readers might be interested to read David Clifton’s comments in an interview for iGaming Times in August 2018. Entitled “From ‘problem gambling’ to ‘gambling-related harm’”, the interview posed to David the following questions about what had then already become a noticeable shift in Gambling Commission policy focus:

  1. What is driving the shift in focus from “problem gambling” to “gambling-related harm”?
  2. How is this shift already being borne out in terms of companies’ obligations?
  3. What implications is this shift likely to have, further down the line, as the concept of gambling-related harm is expanded?

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The Commission’s announcement in relation to the “Measuring gambling-related harms among children and young people” framework document states as follows:

As part of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms a new framework to understand gambling harms experienced by children and young people has been published today.

This report, which has been developed by Ipsos MORI in collaboration with the Gambling Commission, Advisory Board for Safer Gambling and GambleAware, presents a framework to better understand the ways that harms from gambling can impact upon the health, relationships and finances of young people. It builds on earlier work to develop a framework for gambling harms among adults.

The framework has been designed to cover the broad spectrum of harms that can impact young people and the next phase of work will test some survey questions for measuring gambling harms.  The questions have been included on Ipsos MORI’s Young Person’s Omnibus survey and the data will be analysed to explore which questions are most and least effective for further monitoring.

The launch of the new framework comes a week after the Commission launched the new National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

Helen Rhodes, the Gambling Commission’s Programme Director for Safer Gambling said: “Gaining a better understanding of the impact of gambling on children and young people is a key priority for the Commission.

“Childhood and adolescence is a key stage of development and any harms experienced at this stage in life can be detrimental to the future development, confidence and potential of young people.

“This newly released framework will provide critical insight into the range of harms that young people in Britain can experience and will help greatly in concentrating the National Strategy’s prevention and education initiatives where they will have the most impact.

“This will take time and the framework will evolve as we move into the next phase of this work. We encourage our partners in delivering the National Strategy, including public health officials and academics to feed back to us as we move into the next phase of work.”

Lead researcher at Ipsos MORI, Margaret Blake said: “This framework has been developed with professionals, young people and experts in gambling in a series of workshops, interviews and focus groups.  The initial questions cover just some of the harms in the framework and are intended to explore the entire range of harms that can be experienced from gambling, even where it would not be classified as problem gambling.  This work is just a starting point and we anticipate that the framework and measures will develop in the future.”

Director of Research and Evaluation at GambleAware, Clare Wyllie said: “This initial framework is designed to help guide and focus research and action to reduce gambling harms in children and young people. We encourage other researchers to build further evidence to develop the framework, so together we can move faster and go further to reduce gambling harms.”

The new strategy has a dedicated website and is available to view through

The Executive Summary of the framework documents reads as follows:

Gambling is increasingly considered to be a public health issue with the potential to cause harm, even where the gambling would not be classified as problem gambling. This report focusses on gambling-related harm for children and young people. It builds on work which has been done to develop a framework for gambling-related harm among adults. A specific framework is needed for children and young people because key aspects of their lives differ from adults which affects the ways in which they are likely to experience harm from gambling. Firstly, childhood and adolescence is a key stage of development. This means that harms are likely to impact their future potential as well as having impacts in childhood and adolescence. Children and young people are also financially and emotionally dependent on others to a greater extent than adults are. This means that as well as their own gambling, the gambling of others, especially parents, has the potential to cause harm.

This report presents a definition and framework for gambling-related harm among children and young people based on:

  • an expert workshop of professionals and researchers working with young people and working in the field of gambling;
  • four focus groups in schools with young people aged 13-18.

As a result of this work, and with reference to the adult framework, the following definition and domains of harm have been proposed:

“Gambling-related harms are the adverse impacts from gambling on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, communities and societies. Gambling-related harms affect young people in the present and may also affect their future potential. The harms may be a result of their own gambling or the gambling of others around them e.g. parents, family, friends or other people in their networks.”

Potential harms are currently divided into four main domains, with key sub-domains. These harms are part of the framework (defined in the section on definitions below) and currently under review for inclusion or exclusion:

(a)  Financial: living standards of family, attitudes to and concerns about money

(b)  Development: education, social and emotional functioning

(c)  Relationships: family, friends and the community, behaviour

(d)  Health: physical, mental, emotional wellbeing

This report sets out detail of the types of harm which may be experienced under each domain and then details the areas for questionnaire design. The definition and framework have deliberately been made broad so as not to exclude potential harms. The next stage of this project was to develop a set of questions to measure key components of harm focussing on those which are likely to have the greatest impact, which are most concrete rather than abstract and those which young people are most likely to be able to attribute to gambling. Following this, the questions were tested using cognitive interviewing. They are being piloted on a survey before refining and finalising the questions. The framework can be developed as evidence about harms is gathered.

Focus on the effect of gambling on children and young people will be maintained on the publication shortly of new GambleAware research findings on the impact of gambling advertising on children, young people and the vulnerable (the RGSB research brief for which can be read here).