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2 Engagement

We have argued earlier that a wider range of public and other organisations need to accept their responsibilities for working in partnership to reduce gambling-related harm, in particular those individuals and organisations involved in mental or other health services, social welfare or criminal justice.

Establishing this approach has long been an ambition. The Board has consistently argued that gambling-related harm should be regarded as a public health issue,to be tackled in a comprehensive way alongside other public health issues like alcohol or drug misuse, or obesity.

The absence of clearly documented evidence of actual harm, systematically collected, aggregated and reported, has made it difficult to persuade relevant agencies that problem gambling and the associated harms are areas to which they should commit more of their scarce resources. Their reluctance is despite the large numbers of problem gamblers and ‘at risk’ gamblers, and the even larger numbers of people who are affected by gambling indirectly. The connection between gambling-related harm and resource pressures on the NHS is not as obvious as in the case of alcohol or drug-related harm or obesity. As a result, funding for epidemiological research (ie the extent of the problem) is very limited. Funding for treatment, or for research into possible remedies, has been almost entirely provided by the Responsible Gambling Trust, supported by donations from the industry, and not from the public purse.

The relative lack of success of efforts to achieve greater mainstreaming of the strategy to date is not a reason for giving up on it. Progress towards a better understanding of gambling-related harm and how to measure it could provide a good opportunity to explain why different stakeholders should be concerned, and how they might usefully contribute.

The Responsible Gambling Trust and the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board will continue to build on existing work with non-gambling organisations and service providers. Our efforts include the organisation of conferences or seminars to explore areas of potentially mutual interest. The Trust, for example, held a seminar with public health professionals in late 2015. It held another on gambling-related debt in March 2016, based on a paper (Understanding gambling-related harm and debt) published earlier by the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board.

Lead responsibility: Jointly held between Responsible Gambling Strategy Board and Responsible Gambling Trust.

Indicative timescale and Indicators of success: Over the period of the strategy we will seek to achieve demonstrable engagement in its implementation by a wider range of public bodies, evidenced both by the commitment of resources and by the adoption of appropriate policies.

Relevant to: Priority objectives III, IV and V.