New Study into the Cost of Gambling Harm

It seems that every day of the week there is a new study released on some subject. Public Health England have been the latest to do so. Their study looks at the subject of gambling harm. It suggests that this costs England £1.27 billion a year.

Public Health England are an agency that is part of the Department of Health. Where does this figure they mention come from and what was the purpose of their study?

The study had the task of identifying the prevalence of gambling harm. In addition, it examined the effect this problem has on others. Then with all that information gathered, it was time to take a look at what economic and social burdens are caused by this problem.

The study revealed an estimated cost of between £841 million and £2.12 billion, a rather large range. The most likely estimate is that figure of £1.27 billion. Of this estimated figure, a total of £647.2 million was a direct cost for the UK government.

£342.2 million of that total is for mental and physical health costs. Back to the estimation game and the study put a cost of £162.5 million on criminal activities. These are ones that the believe occur as a result of gambling problems being developed. £79.5 million is put down for expenses re employment and education harms.

Another part of the study found that 3,799 people have been imprisoned after being found guilty of gambling-related crimes. There’s also the problem of homelessness caused by gambling problems. There were 21,438 homeless applications in England that had some link to problems caused by gambling. The agency continued their estimates, reporting that £619.2 million was incurred in intangible costs to society.

What has those in the gambling industry had to say about all of this? The study describes them as “commercial stakeholders.” They claimed that the causes of gambling harm are complex. A tendency towards addiction does not help someone who gambles. They believe the best way to deal with the situation are individual intervention and treatment.

Others not in the gambling industry say the problem is caused by gambling products/environments. Their view is that systematic change in the gambling industry is needed. All of which will make the review into the 2005 Gambling Act even more interesting.

That review has already received plenty of evidence from the UK Gambling Commission. Areas such as gambling companies sponsoring sports clubs look to be facing plenty of changes in the future. A ban on such sponsorship may well be on the table, despite football clubs continuing to sign up such deals.