New research to explore the public health impact of gambling throughout Wales

Problem gambling is a hidden public health issue in communities throughout Wales. It can have profoundly negative effects upon, not only the individual, but also families, friends and other social relationships

Professor Robert Rogers, of the School of Psychology, Bangor University and Professor Simon Dymond, Professor in Psychology and Behaviour Analysis at Swansea University, will lead a team of researchers and work with Public Health Wales to produce a report that provides more in-depth information about the extent and nature of gambling problems in Wales. Recent Gambling Commission survey data reported that around 1.1 percent of the Welsh population are problematic gamblers with a further 4 percent at risk of becoming problem gamblers. This has raised public and policy debate about the health and social impacts of gambling in Wales.

Professor Robert Rogers recently commented: “Gambling-related harms can appear in different ways; as a severe addiction in some people but also as  broader harms amongst people who might not be classed as having a ‘clinical’ addiction, but who nonetheless, are experiencing are spending too much money or time gambling or finding it hard to control their gambling. These harms can do severe damage to their lives and causing neglect of important relationships, families or careers. These effects can be quite hidden; for example, homelessness statistics can hide gambling harms, especially for young men, who face no homelessness ‘safety-net’.

This report, which seeks to learn more about the risks to different communities, could lead to more informed public health policy, improved decision making about the provision of treatments, addressing primary or resultant issues such as depression or anxiety and public education ensuring that the right messages reach the right audience.

Professor Mark Bellis of Public Health Wales said: “We are delighted to be working with Bangor University on an aspect of public health that has previously received very little attention. Developments in the gambling industry and related advertising mean it is important that we understand the risks to public health in Wales represented by the gambling industry and that we work with partners to ensure that everyone, but especially the most vulnerable, are protected from any associated harms.”

The report will be produced by a team headed by Professor Rogers, Dr Heather Wardle, of Heather Wardle Research, and Professor Dymond.