On July 10, 2018, The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) published a ground-breaking approach to understanding the extent of harm that gambling could have caused on the society and its members.

The investigations and authoring of the report were led by Dr. Heather Wardle, who represented the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) – a gambling regulatory body in the country. Publication of the report follows coordination and collaboration of efforts among UKGC, RGSB, and GambleAware – which funded the initiative.

Gambling has been touted to cause social, financial, and health problems among the people directly involved and even their family members. However, there lacks a scientific and verifiable measure to ascertain the level of damage. The approach seeks to measure the harm caused by gambling on the society.

The report is a major stride into the development of a causal relationship between social challenges and gambling. It calls for views, from the general public, on ways that can be used in measuring and better understanding the social cost that results in the likely harm caused by gambling.

The opinions that will be received from the call and effort of the team will guide the mapping out of a methodology that will henceforth be used in quantifying the impacts of gambling of finances, health, and relationships. In line with that goal, UKGC, RGSB, and GambleAware intend to develop a standard definition of gambling-related harm that can be used by stakeholders such as public health officials, lawmakers, and policymakers. The report acknowledges that the impacts of gambling could be short-lived while in other instances, they could last longer and spread to family members and even the society. Having an agreed upon definition will allow a common view and understanding of the problem.

UKGC’s report is also seeking to make the economic and social impacts of gambling-related harms measurable, easy to monitor, and better understood. It acknowledges that the society today lacks a defined way of determining whether social and economic problems affecting a person are associated with their gambling habit.

The team also intends to use the information gathered, from their research and opinions from other players, to develop a framework for action that will enable individuals, their families, and communities better understand the impacts of gambling-related harm. The report is seeking to have a more responsive British society that will be alive to the challenges that gambling is having on them.

UKGC and RGSB are committed to coming up with the most effective way that will be used in measuring social and economic costs of gambling-afflicted harm going forward. When unveiling the approach, Gambling Commission’s Chief Executive Officer, Neil McArthur said that their efforts were only ground-breaking and more needed to be done to realize their goal. He indicated the willingness of the commission to support public health officials, the gambling industry, and the public work together in raising opinions so that a framework for prevention is realized.

McArthur also said that while a majority of gamblers do not suffer the negative consequences, the commission, as a gambling watchdog, could not hide from the fact that possible detrimental effects are affecting a significant number of locals, families, and communities.

The report’s lead author, Dr. Wardl, described it as a major step in understanding gambling and the harm it can have on the society. She expressed optimism in the process as stakeholders had already made the first step of recognizing that gambling can affect more people in the family, community, and society.

Marc Etches, the Chief Executive Officer at GambleAware emphasized that gambling is a public health issue. “We need urgently to improve our understanding of what gambling, and its wide-reaching knock-on effects, is costing us,” he said.

 

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