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Measuring gambling-related harms: a framework for action

Gambling Commission Responsible Gambling Strategy Board GambleAware (2018) Measuring gambling-related harms: a framework for action. . Gambling Commission, Birmingham, UK.

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Background This report is the output of an expert group assembled to a) agree a definition of gambling-related harms to be used in British policy and practice, b) consider how gambling-related harms may be better understood, measured and monitored and c) to explore whether it is possible to attach some estimate of the social cost of gambling-related harms and make recommendations about how that may be done. Gambling-related harms definition Our proposed definition is that “gambling-related harms are the adverse impacts from gambling on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, communities and society”. These harms affect resources, relationships and health. The impact from them may be shortlived but can be durable, having enduring consequences and exacerbating existing inequalities. The impact of these harms can be felt by individuals, families and communities. Framing policy action Our proposed definition highlights how the impact of harms can be felt by individuals, families and communities. It is also important to recognise that the determinants of harms can be created and shaped at each of these levels. This means that sustained action to prevent gambling-related harms should include actions taken at the societal level, to change broader environments; the community level, to address local influences; the familial or peer level, to address interpersonal impact, as well as at the level of the individual. As such, we recommend adopting the socio-ecological model as a framework for preventive action on gambling-related harms. Understanding, measuring and monitoring gambling-related harms Having offered a definition of gambling-related harms, it is important to think about how we better understand harms and increase their visibility. Part of increasing this visibility involves (but is not limited to) attempting to estimate the costs associated with harms in monetary terms. To do this, we have identified a range of different metrics that are related to the experience of gambling-related harms and then considered whether social costs could be estimated for any of these. Over 50 different metrics of gambling-related harms were identified under the organising themes of resources, relationships and health. Of these, only a few areas currently have the potential to contribute to a social cost of gambling-related harms. These are: • loss of employment • experience of bankruptcy and/or debt • loss of housing/homelessness • crime associated with gambling • relationship breakdown/problems • health-related problems • suicide and suicidality. We have recommended that these areas be pursued and that they be used in a foundation model to begin to estimate some of the social costs associated with gambling-related harms. We recognise that this will be a deeply conservative measure and hope that our framework, outlining all possible metrics of harms, allows people to easily see where the gaps exist. We also hope this is useful in stimulating conversations and actions about how to fill these evidence gaps. We also recognise that many of the harms listed do not lend themselves to being converted into a social cost. This does not make them any less important. We are committed to increasing the visibility of all gambling-related harms and have suggested that further research be taken to achieve this. The content of this document is intended to stimulate debate and thought. We do not view it as definitive and welcome any comments you may have. If you have comments or suggestions, please get in touch with us at

Item Type: Monograph (Report)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 Gambling Commission
Divisions: Social Policy
Personal Social Services Research Unit
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2018 09:35
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2021 23:07

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