- More research is required to understand gambling-related issues including suicides
- There also needs to be a balanced approach to implementing reforms
- These subjects were discussed during a meeting of relevant agencies involved in the Gambling Act Review
The UK needs more research and evidence to understand the true extent of gambling harm, according to Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew.
Appearing before MPs this week, Andrew acknowledged that the government still lacks “actual definitive information” on major issues linked to gambling harm, such as suicides.
In the same meeting with MPs, Andrew also emphasized the importance of adopting a balanced approach when implementing the Gambling Act Review White Paper proposals to ensure that new measures do not result in unintended consequences for customers and the gambling sector.
Govt. Must Adopt Evidence-led Approach to Addressing Gambling Harm
The relevant agencies involved in the Gambling Act Review, which was launched in December 2020, focused heavily on research and data-gathering to inform key policy changes that must be introduced to strengthen customer protection.
Among the major areas studied was the association between gambling harm and suicide rates among UK residents. Studies reveal that up to 496 of suicide cases across the country are linked to gambling.
This particular topic was discussed during Minister Andrew’s recent meeting with MPs where he admitted that the UK government needs further research to gain a full understanding of the link between gambling harm and suicide. He noted that while some suicides were driven by gambling problems, there are potentially other reasons why people take their own life.
An evidence-led approach is the way to go, according to Andrews, and it is important that all of the relevant government departments actively involved in the implementation of the White Paper recommendations continue their approach.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) are currently conducting White Paper-related consultations.
Andrew said that among the primary goals of these consultations is to bring about a “balanced and proportionate approach” that not only addresses key issues that have emerged from the gambling scene over the last two decades but also introduces a uniform approach among UK operators to identifying customers at risk of gambling harm.
Importance of RET Levy in Gambling Research
UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes, who was also present during the meeting, said that gambling-related suicide is one area that they will conduct more research on going forward.
He stated that the proposed RET levy will have a huge contribution to this particular area of work as it will ensure adequate, sustainable funding for all gambling-related research. This would enable the government to have the best research in the world and come up with effective measures to curb harm.