Stephanie Bramley is a Research Associate at the NIHR Health and Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. (801 words)
It is only the middle of March and the Unit has submitted responses to three consultations about gambling.
This month we submitted a response to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on gambling-related harm (Bramley, Manthorpe & Norrie, 2019a). This Group was previously the APPG on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) and following the success that it had with reducing the stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2 per spin, the Group has decided to conduct an inquiry into the impacts of online gambling (Gambling-related harm APPG, no date).
Our response to the inquiry follows a meeting that Caroline Norrie (HSCWRU), Heather Wardle (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and I had with Carolyn Harris MP in Parliament to discuss the impacts of gambling-related harm. In our response we highlight Unit research conducted with adults with care and support needs which found that online gambling could lead to vulnerable adults experiencing gambling-related harm either from their own or from other people’s gambling participation (Bramley, Manthorpe & Norrie, 2019a; Bramley, Norrie & Manthorpe, 2019). We also outline our support for proposals suggested by Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party who would like to amend the Gambling Act 2005 so that it is “fit for the digital age”, put limits on spend, the speed of play and stake size on online gambling products, and explore the links between gaming and gambling (Watson, 2019).
In February we submitted two consultation responses – one to NatCen (Bramley, Manthorpe & Norrie, 2019b) and one to the Gambling Commission (Bramley, Manthorpe & Norrie, 2019c). We were invited by NatCen to share our views about a proposal for a new longitudinal study of gambling behaviour. We are enthusiastic about this new research project as this type of study has not previously been undertaken in the UK. In our response we outline a number of suggestions including the formulation of an international Advisory Group so as to learn from other jurisdictions which have conducted similar studies, the inclusion of the views of individuals with lived experience of gambling-related harm and the utilisation of standardised approaches so as to help make comparisons with the findings of other international longitudinal studies of gambling behaviour.
The Gambling Commission has been seeking views on the development of a new national strategy to reduce gambling-related harms as its current strategy comes to an end this month (Gambling Commission, 2018). In our response we expressed our agreement with the Commission that the regulator should adopt a public health approach to gambling-related harm, that the strategy should focus on the prevention and treatment of gambling-related harm and there should be more work to evaluate gambling support services and support researchers so as to improve the evidence base about gambling-related harm. However, we expressed our concern that the Commission was focusing on children and young people, as our research suggests that adults with care and support needs (Bramley, Norrie & Manthorpe, 2019) and migrants (Wardle, Bramley, Norrie & Manthorpe, 2019) are groups which are also vulnerable to experiencing gambling-related harm.
So what can we look forward to in 2019? Well, the reduction to FOBTs stakes comes into force on the 1st April 2019 and it will be interesting to examine the impact of this on gambling behaviour, particularly in relation to whether existing FOBT players migrate to other forms of gambling. From this, changes in online gambling behaviour may well occur given that some gambling operators are reportedly incentivising betting shop staff to encourage gamblers to open online gambling accounts (Davies, 2019a; 2019b). We may also see stricter regulation surrounding the use of credit cards (Davies, 2019c) and PayPal (Marsh & Davies, 2019) as payment methods for gambling products/services. The sale of scratchcards may also be prohibited to people under 18 years of age (Rawlinson, 2019), furthermore there may be stricter identification and age verification checks in order to prevent underage gambling and to ensure that self-excluded gamblers cannot continue to gamble (Tucker, 2019).
There is also promising news about the prevention and treatment of gambling-related harm in the UK. A new gambling treatment clinic in Leeds is expected to open in April 2019 (Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, 2019) and Citizens Advice has been awarded funding to train its debt advisors and other front-line workers to improve their understanding of gambling-related harm (GambleAware, 2018). This is particularly exciting news as I have joined Calderdale Citizens Advice as a Gambling Support Service Trainer to develop a new Gambling Support Service. In this role I will train front-line workers across Yorkshire, the Humber and North Lincolnshire, and provide support to Calderdale Citizens Advice clients who are experiencing gambling-related harm (Sector Support Calderdale, no date).
So, 2019 may well be a year of change for gambling in the UK, we will have to wait and see.
Stephanie Bramley is a Research Associate at the NIHR Health & Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London.
Bramley, S., Manthorpe, J. and Norrie, C. (2019a). Submission to the Gambling-related harm All-Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry: Assessing the impact of online gambling. London: NIHR Health and Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London.
Bramley, S., Manthorpe, J. & Norrie, C. (2019b). Submission to NatCen/Gambling Commission – Views on potential new longitudinal study of gambling behaviour. London: NIHR Health and Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London.
Bramley, S., Manthorpe, J. & Norrie, C. (2019c). Submission to the Gambling Commission – Discussion on a new national strategy to reduce gambling harms and Consultation on proposed amendments to LCCP requirements on gambling businesses to contribute to research, prevention and treatment. London: NIHR Health and Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London.
Bramley, S., Norrie, C & Manthorpe, J. (2019). Gambling risks: Exploring social work practitioners’ experiences of clients presenting with risks of gambling-related harm, Practice: Social Work in Action. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/09503153.2018.1545015
Davies, R. (2019a, February 5). Ladbrokes staff told to sign gamblers to online accounts to avoid redundancy. The Guardian. Accessed March 7, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/05/ladbrokes-staff-told-to-sign-gamblers-to-online-accounts-to-avoid-redundancy
Davies, R. (2019b, February 8). Ladbrokes accused of conflict of interest over problem gamblers. The Guardian. Accessed March 7, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/08/ladbrokes-fobt-problem-gamblers
Davies, R. (2019c, January 12). Gambling on credit cards could be banned in overhaul of betting. The Guardian. Accessed March 7, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jan/12/gambling-on-credit-cards-could-be-banned-in-overhaul-of-betting
GambleAware (2018, September 24). GambleAware invests £1.5million in partnership with Citizens Advice. Accessed March 7, 2019, from https://about.gambleaware.org/news/gambleaware-invests-15-million-in-partnership-with-citizens-advice/
Gambling-related harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (no date). Sessions of the current inquiry. Accessed March 7, 2019, from http://www.grh-appg.com/sessions-of-the-current-inquiry/
Gambling Commission (2018, December 12). Discussion on a new strategy to reduce gambling harms. Accessed March 7, 2019, from https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/news/2018/Discussion-on-a-new-national-strategy-to-reduce-gambling-harms.aspx
Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust (no date). New NHS gambling clinic for North of England to help thousands at risk. Accessed March 7, 2019, from https://www.leedsandyorkpft.nhs.uk/news/articles/new-nhs-gambling-clinic/
Marsh, S. & Davies, R. (2019, February 17). Problem gamblers are using PayPal to spend up to £150,000 a day. The Guardian. Accessed March 7, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/feb/17/paypal-problem-gamblers-misuse-avoid-bank-limits
Rawlinson, K. (2019, February 22). Scratchcard sales to under-18s should be banned, says minister. The Guardian. Accessed March 7, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/feb/22/scratchcards-sales-to-under-18s-should-be-banned-says-minister
Sector Support Calderdale (no date). Citizens Advice Calderdale New Gambling Support Service. Accessed March 14, 2019, from https://www.sectorsupportcalderdale.org.uk/citizens-advice-calderdale-new-gambling-support-service/
Tucker, M. (2019, January 19). Gambling addiction: flaws exposed in online self-exclusion system. BBC News. Accessed March 7, 2019, from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46830810
Wardle, H., Bramley, S., Norrie, C. & Manthorpe, J. (2019). What do we know about gambling-related harm affecting migrants and migrant communities? Addictive Behaviors, doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.01.017
Watson, T. (2019, February 28). We need a new Gambling Act fit for the digital age: My speech to the IPPR. Accessed March 5, 2019, from https://www.tom-watson.com/we_need_a_new_gambling_act_fit_for_the_digital_age