One of our priorities at Gambling Harm UK is to see gambling harm appropriately considered and prioritised within the health context.
Consequently, as well as Gambling Harm UK's Medical Education efforts, Gambling Harm UK have been one of the earliest and most committed campaigners that wish to see NICE guidelines for gambling.
In April 2020, a UK Parliament committee launched a call for evidence for gambling-harm with an inquiry:
"Gambling can have significant adverse effects on people which can include addiction, mental health problems, financial loss, and in some cases crime or suicide.
Excluding the National Lottery, gambling operators earned £11.3bn in 2018-19. All gambling in Britain is regulated by the Gambling Commission with the aim to “ensure gambling is fair and safe”. It is funded by licence fees from industry, which amounted to £19 million in the same period.
Overall responsibility for the policy and regulatory framework lies the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), which has an objective to ensure gambling is socially responsible. The industry is increasingly complex, with new risks emerging from online and mobile gambling and games that share features with gambling but are not regulated as such.
The NAO’s report ‘Gambling regulation: problem gambling and protecting vulnerable people’ examines how well gambling regulation protects people from gambling-related harms and addresses new risks from social and technological developments.
The report finds that there are an estimated 395,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain, with 1.8 million more gamblers at risk who may also be experiencing harm. The report finds that the Gambling Commission is improving its regulation but has more to do including taking a more strategic approach to influencing gambling operators to raise standards.
The NAO concludes that even with improvements, the Commission’s ability to protect gamblers faces constraints in the regulatory framework, including inflexible funding and gaps in redress arrangements, and that the Commission is unlikely to be fully effective in addressing risks and harms to consumers within the current arrangements.
This will be the first time the Committee has examined gambling regulation in recent years. The Committee will question officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Gambling Commission, on how well the current regulatory framework protects gamblers.
The Committee will also ask officials about how current restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic could affect those susceptible to the negative impacts of gambling.
The Committee is inviting views from any interested parties on the issues raised by the NAO report – please submit your evidence by Wednesday 22 April."
In May 2020, Gambling Harm UK's Kishan Patel responded to this call for evidence with a short synthesis of salient points which included the lack of guidelines on gambling-harm:
"There are currently no NICE guidelines on gambling. As of 24th July 2018, gambling has been referred to NICE, but it has not yet been scheduled into the work programme."
The timeline for NICE guidelines on gambling has now been updated which also signifies a significant watershed moment from inaction to action.
20 October 2021 - Scoping workshop
12 July 2021 - Stakeholder list updated
01 June 2021 - 15 June 2021 - Topic expert committee member recruitment
01 June 2021 - 15 June 2021 - Committee chair recruitment
16 November 2021 - 14 December 2021 - Committee member recruitment
16 November 2021 - 14 December 2021 - Draft scope consultation
07 February 2024 - Expected publication