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The National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms was launched in 2019, with the purpose of moving faster and going further to reduce gambling harms. Launched by the Gambling Commission based on engagement with a range of partners, the Strategy acted as an important tool for collaboration across regulators, public health and policy makers, across academia and charities, as well as with industry.  Each organisation was responsible for the projects they lead, following their own systems for governance, oversight and metrics for success. And over the last three years, the contributors to the Strategy drove an increased momentum to reduce harms, which will live on as we collectively respond to the continuing and serious challenges.  

The progress of contributors to the Strategy has been documented on the Reducing gambling harms hub  on the Gambling Commission website. Across the lifetime of the strategy, over 450 individual projects and actions have been completed or are underway with more than 50 different stakeholders. For a view of these projects, the National Strategy Implementation actions map has been updated to share progress made up to April 2022. 

The Strategy set out two strategic priorities:

  • prevention and education
  • treatment and support
Progress against these strategic priorities has been delivered through four enablers:
  • regulation and oversight
  • collaboration
  • evaluation
  • research to inform action
In this newsletter, the Gambling Commission aims to provide a snapshot of some of the vital work that has come about as a result of collaboration under the strategy.

There is certainly more work to do to continue to reduce harms. However, the issue is now firmly on the wider public agenda. Central government, local government, public health, the third sector and beyond are all contributing to a more integrated, whole-system approach to tackling gambling harms, with more progress to come from the Government’s Review of the Gambling Act 2005.  

Strengthened regulation and oversight

As the regulator, the Commission has continued to drive improvements in the gambling industry to prevent gambling harms and will continue to do so in line with our remit and statutory objectives. 

Over the past three years, the Gambling Commission has:

  • strengthened online age verification to prevent children gambling online, and strengthened identity requirements online 
  • banned reverse withdrawals​
  • banned credit cards for online gambling
  • made online games safer through updated and enhanced technical standards​
  • strengthened rules on so-called VIP schemes​
  • made participation in the multi-operator self-exclusion GAMSTOP mandatory for all online gambling​ businesses
  • introduced strong new rules on identifying customers at risk of harm through customer interaction, for example specifying the indicators of harm operators have to use in their monitoring systems​ and requiring automated solutions
  • collaborated with the ASA on new rules to protect vulnerable consumers, and with the industry on the use of ad-tech
In February 2021 the Gambling Commission established the Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP) to provide expert independent advice to the Commission from members with personal experienced of gambling harms. This built on an interim Experts by Experience Panel that preceded it. 

The Gambling Commission continues to take strong action against operators who fail to meet the required standards. Over the three years of the strategy, our casework led to the suspension of sixteen operator licences and the revocation of licences for seven operators and five personal management licence holders. During the same period, a total of £91.7million was paid by gambling businesses as a result of fines or regulatory settlements. 

Our Enforcement and Compliance work will continue to focus on customer protection, as consumers have every reason to expect.  

Prevention and education

Prevention and education programmes have expanded across Great Britain, helping both consumers and gambling businesses better identify and address gambling related harms. This is an area where we hope that the collective lessons from these significant pilots and ongoing programmes will help inform a longer term approach to prevention and education, underpinned by public health principles.  

Examples of work in the prevention and education space include: 


Collaboration across government, treatment providers, health authorities, the justice system and beyond, has been integral to the strategy’s progress and has a significant role to play in ensuring this continues. 

Strategy Implementation Groups in both Wales and Scotland have brought together public health, local and national government, health and social care oversight and service commissioners. Combining their powers and intelligence they have identified and determined the most impactful priority actions to reduce gambling harms across their regions. Partners in England have come together to share research and evidence, to collaborate on projects and for roundtables on specific themes.   

Work has been undertaken by Government, the Commission and others to make the voluntary funding model for research, prevention and treatment (RET) as effective as possible. Gambling operators are required to make an annual financial contribution as a condition of their licence and since January 2021, these contributions are made to organisations on a list published by the Commission in order to limit the funds to organisations which have independent oversight and a commitment to transparency and evaluation. 

Since March 2019, the Commission has matched more than £40m of funds from regulatory settlements following enforcement action to 55 projects to accelerate the strategy and increase our collective understanding about what works to reduce gambling harms.  

Hundreds of individual collaborative projects have collaborated under the banner of the Strategy. For a  view of these projects, the National Strategy Implementation actions map has been updated to share progress made up to April 2022. Many of these projects, undertaken by a range of partners, are highlighted in the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG) year three progress report on the National Strategy, published May 2022. 

Some examples include: 

  • In Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland launched a Gambling Support Service, also commissioned by GambleAware, providing training to debt advisers and other frontline workers to better understand, prevent or reduce gambling harm. 
  • The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute launched a project funded by regulatory settlements aimed at financial services firms. As one of few places that show someone’s gambling activity across multiple operators, financial services providers can play an important role in helping to reduce harm. The project aimed to help the sector increase engagement, confidence and best practice on the issue of reducing gambling-related harm. Over two years, they delivered an integrated programme of events, workshops, research projects, papers, guides and communications. 

Treatment and support

The overall coordination of treatment is a matter for Government and the NHS in each nation. Across the broader public health setting, the NHS have opened two new clinics to support people experiencing gambling harms. There are plans for a further five gambling addiction clinics to be made available across England, as well as a national children and young person’s pilot clinic. 

Specific to collaboration on treatment under the Strategy: 

  • The Primary Care Gambling Service is working with NHS England on a pilot project aimed at improving primary care treatment, and pathways within the wider treatment community, initially funded by regulatory settlement. The project has embedded a screening question about gambling harm into online triage platforms, accessed by patients for GP response. The Service has received referrals directly from patients through the online consultation tool eConsult and patients are being seen virtually and in person. The service has developed a Primary Care Gambling Competency Framework and is working on a national training programme, and a sustainable model of delivery.  
  • In 2018, GambleAware commissioned a programme of studies by NatCen Social Research to review the current need, demand and use of gambling treatment and support in England, Scotland and Wales. The aim was to identify where there are geographic and demographic gaps in provision and detail the demand for treatment and support by gamblers and affected others across Britain. The research, Treatment Needs and Gap Analysis in Great Britain – A Synthesis of Findings, and all workstream reports were published in May 2020 and have been used by a range of partners in addressing treatment gaps and delivering improved treatment pathways. 
  • Public Health directors in Yorkshire and the Humber are delivering a three-year programme, supported by regulatory settlement, focused on education, prevention, support and treatment for individuals and families experiencing problem gambling. 

In relation to support, some further examples are: 

  • A collaboration between Unite the Union, the Beacon Counselling Trust and ARA, provides a framework for action to help employers and trade unions build good practise in health and work-related activities, with the specific target of reducing gambling related harms within the work place. At the heart of the programme is the newly developed Royal Society for Public Health First Aid (Level 2 Ofqual award) in supporting individuals affected by, or at risk of being affected by gambling related harm, called Bet You Can Help. This new qualification, evaluated by GREO (now incorporating the Don’t Bet Your Life On It Tool Kit) provides candidates with an understanding of the nature and the impact of the concepts of harmful gambling and gambling related harm and enables them to identify and to signpost affected individuals to sources of reliable information, advice, guidance and support through services delivered via the National Gambling Treatment Service. 
  • TalkBanStop, is a pilot and evaluation approach, delivered by GamCare, GAMSTOP and Gamban funded via regulatory settlement until March 2023 to encourage consumers to use multiple tools in support of stopping or managing gambling. 


Evaluation that measures the impact on people, behaviours and processes is key to determining the success of a programme and ensure continuous improvement. Each organisation that contributed to the strategy has its own metrics for success or reporting progress. The Commission developed metrics and a programme of research, statistics and evaluation which together continue to deepen our understanding of gambling harms and the impact of work in reducing those harms.   

Greo developed a Safer Gambling Evaluation Evidence Hub, which aimed to strengthen evaluation of safer gambling initiatives. Greo's evaluation team developed a suite of tools following a consultation with National Strategy stakeholders about meaningful evaluations of safer gambling initiatives. Over the course of the Strategy, Greo delivered evaluation learning opportunities, a no-cost ‘Ask an evaluator’ service and the Evaluation Snapshot Programme, which was designed to streamline learning about effective safer gambling policies, practices and programmes. 

Partners supporting the National Strategy have published evaluation reports on a number of projects and programmes delivered, which can be accessed through the online actions map. Examples of individual evaluations include: 

Research to inform action

In the wider setting and key to laying the foundations for a nationwide approach to gambling harms, was Public Health England’s Gambling-related harms evidence review. Commissioned by the Department for Health and Social Care, the report concluded that harmful gambling should be considered a public health issue. 

As an evidence-based regulator, the Gambling Commission collaborates with local and international researchers and organisations to provide advice to the government about gambling behaviour in Great Britain. We collect and analyse data to monitor changes that may have an impact on the regulatory framework and to make sure we are up-to-date with gambling industry statistics and gambling related research. You can read more about our approach to research and statistics on our website. 

GREO created the Research to Inform Action Evidence Hub to support the National Strategy and to strengthen the link between research and policy. The hub includes research on specific areas across the spectrum of reducing gambling harms.  

The Howard League’s Independent Commission has been active for more than three years, during which they have published a literature review, outputs from evidence sessions and commissioned four research projects: sentencers’ understanding and treatment of problem gamblers, and three projects exploring people’s lived experiences of crime and problem gambling. These include focused projects on the lived experience of women and people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

What comes next?

The National Strategy has been a vital tool for collaboration and in building momentum to reduce gambling harms. We welcome the Government’s Review of the Gambling Act 2005, which is a critical review of the legislation and regulation of gambling in Great Britain. Implementing actions following the Review will represent a further and important opportunity for collaboration across a range of partners to continue at pace. 

As a collaboration partner, the Gambling Commission will in the meantime continue to deliver its role in a number of ways: 

  • the first and most significant role is to uphold the licensing objective to protect children and vulnerable people from being harmed by gambling, through effective regulation of the gambling industry
  • we provide advice to Government on participation and prevalence of gambling and problem gambling, and the regulation of the gambling industry 
  • we continue to embed our metrics of success and a programme of research, statistics and evaluation which together continue to deepen our understanding of gambling harms and the impact of work in reducing those harms
  • we advise local authorities on their dual regulation of premises-based gambling 
  • we approve destinations of regulatory settlements, which may result from our enforcement activity – these are payments in lieu of financial penalties for socially responsible purposes. These projects accelerate work to support the National Strategy’s aims 
  • we collaborate to ensure our regulation is informed by and connected to the work of other regulators, public health, people with lived experience, consumers, academics, charities and industry. 
Thank you for your support of the National Strategy – we look forward to ongoing collaboration on the Commission’s work as set out in this newsletter. 
Copyright © 2022 Gambling Commission, All rights reserved.

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