The UK Gambling Commission has restated its commitment to reduce gambling-related harm.
The regulatory body published a report this week reiterating its commitment to tackling gambling addictions after a study highlighting the link between problem gambling and suicide was published by BeGambleAware as part of the Commission’s research program for the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.
According to reports, the study was based on data from 2007’s Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. It found that almost 5% of problem gamblers had attempted suicide in 2006 and that a further 5% were classed as “at-risk” gamblers. Meanwhile, around 19% of respondents from the survey had considered suicide in the previous year.
In its statement, the UK Gambling Commission highlighted its contributions to reduce gambling harm over the past several years. This included imposing tighter requirements regarding how gambling operators identity customers, taking more action against companies who break the Commission’s rules and undertaking assessments to ensure customers are protected.
The UK Gambling Commission has also pledged to work with partners for greater support, induct further research to prevent suicides related to gambling and support the development of care for those experiencing harm related to gambling. The Commission will also work with other charities and financial institutions to tackle the issue.
The study sparked a call for the UK Government and the UK Gambling Commission to do more to protect customers. In a statement addressing the study, Neil McArthur, the Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, said:
“This research is based on data from 2007 but nonetheless the findings clearly show a connection between suicide and gambling, something that has a real and devastating impact on people’s lives. Whilst further research and more timely data collection is essential, we are taking further action now to protect people from the risk of gambling harm.”
He continued: “As a result of this research, the Commission and Samaritans will work together to bolster the existing requirements on gambling businesses to identify those at risk and take action to address and reduce harm.
“However, progress cannot be made by us alone, we need to work together to implement the priorities outlined in the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, and the key recommendations of this research. This is vital to ensuring we have the best research, prevention and treatment services available for vulnerable individuals, their families, friends and communities.”
Dr Heather Wardle, the study’s co-author and assistant professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “The harms from gambling are profound and can be devastating for individuals, families and communities. These results show how people with gambling problems are a higher risk group for suicidality.
“The people on the frontline of dealing with this high-risk group are the industry, who need to think about how they train staff potentially having interactions with suicidal people. They need to ensure those staff will put the wellbeing of people above profit.”
The news comes just weeks after the NHS announced it will be opening its first-ever gambling clinic for children in London.