The UK’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has joined forces with GambleAware to establish a Gambling Health Alliance for the next three years.
The new alliance aims to ensure that gambling related harm is placed on an equal footing with other major public health challenges, focusing on prevention, early intervention, and increased community engagement.
The alliance has initially been established for three years and has the primary objective of bringing together organisations and individuals, specifically policy makers, who have a shared interest in reducing the damage caused to health and wellbeing from gambling.
“While it is encouraging that gambling is rightly identified as a public health issue, more needs to be done to better understand the harms that arise from gambling, who is affected and what support can be provided to prevent harms from developing or escalating in the first place,” said Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive of RSPH, an independent health education charity.
Cramer said that the RSPH has long campaigned about the impact of gambling and issues such as debt on individual health and wellbeing, and the impact of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in its Health on the High Street campaign.
“We are delighted to announce the establishment of this Alliance, which we hope will have the same impact that other alliances concerned with issues impacting on the public’s health, such as obesity and alcohol, are having on raising consciousness and agreeing common goals for the public health and policy-making community to rally behind,” said Cramer. “The GHA will provide a forum where we can foster collaboration and share good practice amongst all relevant stakeholders to increase our understanding of the social, economic and cultural factors that contribute to gambling harms and the inequalities in health caused by this.”
Carolyn Harris MP, chair of the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group, welcomed the establishment of the Gambling Health Alliance.
“This alliance will provide a vital platform for a wide coalition of organisations to join forces in ensuring that action is taken to tackle problem gambling and the many related harms,” she said. “We look forward to working closely with the alliance and in particular, the public health community, in order to ensure that problem gambling and the harms which arise from it are placed on an equal footing with other major public health challenges.”
GambleAware CEO Marc Etches commented: “Gambling is increasingly being considered as a significant public health issue, and this new alliance provides an opportunity for a wide range of organisations to act together to address it in a coordinated and more effective manner.
“As research reveals more about the breadth and complexity of the harms associated with gambling, GambleAware sees clear value in forging new partnerships with those who share our objectives to reduce those harms through a multi-level public health response.”