True cost of gambling underestimated, say new publications


The current focus on individual 'problem gamblers' fail to take into account the full health and social cost of gambling because it overlooks the wider impact on families, friends and communities. according to new work published today.

The joint work by Bangor University, Public Health Wales, Heather Wardle Research and Swansea University also shows that problem gambling rates are highest in the most deprived communities of Wales.

The work examines the challenges and opportunities for addressing gambling harms as a public health concern both at a UK level and within Wales. It highlights that children and young people, people with money worries and debts, people with mental health problems, people from minority ethnic groups, and people living in areas of deprivation are more vulnerable to gambling harms than others.

The work is being released in the context of a dramatic increase in the number of opportunities to gamble over recent years linked with relaxed regulation and rapid technological changes. The 2005 Gambling Act liberalized the market for gambling, and gambling is now a significant part of the British culture and its economy.

In Wales, around 55% of adults (aged 16 years or over) spent money on some form of gambling in 2016. 0.8% of adults were identified as problem gamblers, with 3.3.% at risk. Estimates of the health, welfare, employment, housing and criminal justice costs incurred by problem gamblers was between at least £40m - £70m in Wales. These figures have prompted significant public and political debate about the health and social impacts of gambling in Wales. In his 2018 annual report, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales called for an invigorated policy response to this hitherto unappreciated health challenge.

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