GambleAware Chief Executive Marc Etches believes a “multi-level public health response” is best for tackling problem gambling. His comments come as the responsible gambling body partnered with the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) to establish a Gambling Health Alliance (GHA).
The new alliance will seek to ensure that gambling and the harms which arise from it are placed on an equal footing with other major public health challenges, focussing on prevention, early intervention, and increased community engagement.
The alliance which will initially be established for three years, has the primary objective of bringing together organisations and individuals, specifically policy makers, who have a shared interest in reducing the damage caused to health and wellbeing from gambling. The Alliance will seek to:
- Highlight the rising concerns about gambling related harms;
- Engage and influence policy makers, Government, NGOs and the public health community in order to encourage positive action;
- Promote evidence so it can be translated into practical steps;
- Undertake periodic surveys and polling to inform GHA campaigns to increase awareness of the health harms from gambling.
The Alliance will act as a signposting organisation to other resources relevant to preventing gambling related harm. By creating this network, the Alliance will support the development of a more coherent approach than currently exists, and both better understand gambling as a public health issue and the support which is required to address these issues.
Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “While it is encouraging that gambling is rightly identified as a public health issue, more needs to be done to better understand the harms that arise from gambling, who is affected and what support can be provided to prevent harms from developing or escalating in the first place.
“We have long campaigned of the impact of gambling and issues such as debt on individual health and wellbeing, including the impact of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in our Health on the High Street campaign, and the impact of High Cost Credit, in Life on Debt Row.
“However, we also know that, as highlighted in our Health on the High Street report levels of gambling and gaming are increasing; for example, young people face an unprecedented level of exposure to gambling, with over 400,000 11-16 year olds spending their own money gambling each week.
We are delighted to announce the establishment of this Alliance, which we hope will have the same impact that other alliances concerned with issues impacting on the public’s health, such as obesity and alcohol, are having on raising consciousness and agreeing common goals for the public health and policy-making community to rally behind.
“The GHA will provide a forum where we can foster collaboration and share good practice amongst all relevant stakeholders to increase our understanding of the social, economic and cultural factors that contribute to gambling harms and the inequalities in health caused by this.”
Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the APPG on Gambling Related Harm, said: “As Chair of the APPG on Gambling Related Harm I am delighted to welcome the establishment of a Gambling Health Alliance. This Alliance will provide a vital platform for a wide coalition of organisations to join forces in ensuring that action is taken to tackle problem gambling and the many related harms.
“We look forward to working closely with the Alliance and in particular, the public health community, in order to ensure that problem gambling and the harms which arise from it are placed on an equal footing with other major public health challenges.”
Etches added: “Gambling is increasingly being considered as a significant public health issue, and this new Alliance provides an opportunity for a wide range of organisations to act together to address it in a coordinated and more effective manner.
“As research reveals more about the breadth and complexity of the harms associated with gambling, GambleAware sees clear value in forging new partnerships with those who share our objectives to reduce those harms through a multi-level public health response.”