As the online gambling community rises, so too does the increase in gambling-related issues, concerning gambler’s mental health and wellbeing. This is otherwise known as problem gambling, and has been a major issue throughout the UK’s gambling community, and one that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) are trying to reduce as much as possible.
Wales has become one of the most affected parts of the UK for problem gambling, with the former CEO of the UKGC Sarah Harrison claiming that over 120,000 people in Wales show enough harmful characteristics to be categorised as either at risk of developing an addiction to gambling, or have already become a problem gambler.
The UKGC has collected data from such surveys as the Welsh Problem Gambling Survey and the Health Survey for England to explore the impact of gambling on certain areas of the country. The results from analysis of these surveys found that Wales was one of the most saturated regions for harm caused (or in relation to) gambling.
At the start of last year, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales Dr Frank Atherton spoke up about the gambling problem throughout the region. Not only did Dr Atherton push for the government to pay closer attention to the severe and damaging effects that problem gambling could bring.
During the time Dr Atherton made his speech, it became known that more than 60% of the adult population in Wales had gambled at one point in their life. In addition to this, 1.1% of those in Wales (30,000 people) depicted themselves as addicted to gambling, whilst 3.8% of this same population were also thought to be at risk of falling victim to gambling addiction.
The UKGC, has recently announced that it will be integrating a new National Strategy in order to reduce problem gambling in Wales and other areas throughout the country. The gambling regulators have teamed up with numerous organisations in Wales to help achieve this goal, including charities, regulators and businesses from within the local area.
The National Strategy will take place over the course of three years, and is one of the ways in which the Commission are trying to reduce the negative effects of gambling long-term. Chief Executive of the UKGC Neil McArthur has commented that “The new strategy will provide us and our partners across Wales the opportunity to make faster progress to reduce gambling harms.”
McArthur further elaborated on this point, stating that “We all need to better understand the harms that can be caused by gambling, moving away from simply counting problem gamblers and instead build a greater understanding of the harms experienced”
Dr Frank Atherton has commented on this new National Strategy, stating “I welcome the shift in emphasis in this new strategy to focus on reducing gambling harms, rather than simply promoting responsible gambling as an approach to tackling this public health issue.”
Through this new National Strategy, the UKGC hopes to have a significant impact on problem gambling, and all of the potential harms that come with this, helping to reduce the gambling industry’s negative impact, and improve the mental health and wellbeing to people throughout the surrounding area.