Gambling as a public health issue

All London boroughs have a regulatory responsibility to manage gambling within their localities. This year, all local authorities are required to review and publish a revised Gambling Statement of Principles (Gambling Policy) by 30th January 2019. This is governed under the Gambling Act 2005, where a review of their gambling policies is required every three years.

While the Licensing Act 2003 for alcohol licensed premises considers public health a ‘responsible authority’ with a clear role as a consultee, the Gambling Act 2005 does not. This is a missed opportunity, but should not diminish the fact that the contribution of public health considerations can provide a valuable contribution.

Public health professionals are well placed to provide expert advice in matters relating to health and well-being, in respect of supporting vulnerable people and the range of co-morbidities associated with gambling harm.

The areas where we consider that public health can add value include the following:

  • Providing guidance to public health issues when developing the Gambling Policy: Public health has a positive contribution to make as a non- statutory consultee to influence the content of draft gambling policies in the context of protecting the health of the most vulnerable people in our communities with reference to gambling -related harm.
  • Signposting to relevant health data and evidence, for example in the production of local gambling harm profiles - This includes maximising available data to support the evidence base as a means to improve the health and well-being of the whole population. The most accessible data is compiled by Public Health England and the GLA London Data Store. They are one-stop shops covering a whole range of data and analysis tools for public health and include National General Practice Profiles, which provides practice level indicators and the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF).
  • Ensuring that consideration and attention is given to the health and well-being of the population - Sharing a strategic perspective about the importance of health and well-being and identify areas of consideration relevant to harmful gambling which may otherwise be overlooked or omitted due to a lack of capacity around the topic.
  • Provide a one-stop shop public health reference point - Utilise the development of the Gambling Policy as a means to develop relationships on all matters relating to public health. This can include other aspects of work, such as providing evidence should a licence require a review or when a condition is considered necessary, as well as responding to guidance or consultation papers around gambling.


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