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Gambling related harms costing society more than £1.2bn a year

1 October 2021
Gambling companies s

A landmark study into the evidence on gambling harms – including the most comprehensive estimate of the economic burden of gambling on society – has revealed that harms associated with gambling cost at least £1.27bn in 2019-2020.

That figure is for England alone, so the wider UK figure is likely to be even higher.

This analysis, conducted by Public Health England, includes the first ever estimate of the economic cost of suicide (£619.2) and also provides an updated cost of the homelessness associated with harmful gambling (£62.8m).

CARE has consistently warned about the dangers of gambling related harms which range from financial loss, job loss, relationship breakdown to suicide in the most extreme and tragic cases.

People at risk of gambling related harms are concentrated in areas of higher depravation, such as North England.

There is also a clear link between higher alcohol consumption and harmful gambling and evidence of a link between mental health issues and gambling.

Other findings were:

  • Men were 4.2 times more likely than women to be gambling at levels of elevated risk of harm.
  • People identified as having mental health issues were twice as likely to participate in harmful gambling than people with no mental health issues.

In CARE’s submission to the Government’s 2005 Gambling Act Review, CARE called for gambling to be considered a public health issue, something this new report supports.

Recently appointed Gambling Minister Chris Philp said:

“We are gathering all the necessary evidence to reset the balance between giving adults the freedom to choose how they gamble safely, with the right protections for those at risk of harm.

We are determined to protect vulnerable people from exploitation by aggressive advertising or unfair practices that entrench problem gambling.”
Chris Philp Gambling Minister

Commenting, CARE’s James Mildred said:

“This study is of huge importance and highlights, again, that urgent action is needed to address gambling related harms across the country.

“CARE supports treating gambling as a public health issue because this will allow more resources to be devoted to supporting those suffering from gambling related harms.

“The UK Government has a real opportunity to introduce legislation with real teeth to it in the coming months and we urge them to be bold.

“From cracking down on irresponsible gambling advertising, to holding the betting industry to account, we need new laws fit for digital age, where more and more people are betting online.”
James Mildred CCO at CARE

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While for some, gambling is just harmless fun, for a significant minority it causes genuine devastation. Our vision is to see laws passed that will help protect vulnerable problem gamblers.

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