A new alliance is calling for gambling to be given equal footing with other major public health challenges, such as obesity and alcohol.
The Gambling Health Alliance (GHA) is to highlight concerns about “gambling related harms” in the UK while calling on policy makers to take more action on tackling the issue.
The GHA has been set up by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) along with GambleAware
RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer said: “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.
The number of 11 to 16 year-olds believed to be spending their own money gambling each week.
“We have long campaigned on the impact of gambling and issues such as debt on individual health and well-being, including the impact of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and the impact of high cost credit.
“However, we also know that, as highlighted in our Health on the High Street report, levels of gambling and gaming are increasing.
“For example, young people face an unprecedented level of exposure to gambling, with over 400,000 of 11-16 year-olds spending their own money gambling each week.
“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.”
Carolyn Harris, chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm, said: “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.
“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.”
Marc Etches, chief executive of GambleAware, said: “Gambling is increasingly being considered as a significant public health issue.
“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.”