GambleAware, a charitable trust which promotes responsible gambling, has reported that problem gambling costs the UK Government between £260 million and £1.2 billion a year, with 0.4 - 1.1% of the UK adult population victims of gambling addiction.
Partnering with the Institute for Public Policy Research, GambleAware detailed the financial impact of gambling addiction on the UK government by sector it its report, including costs relating to public health, welfare and employment, housing and criminal justice.
Researching th impact of problem gambling to the health sector, results showed that problem gambling cost the NHS: £140m - £610m in hospital inpatient services, £10m - £40m in mental health primary care, and £30m - £110m in secondary mental health services.
In terms of Welfare & employment, problem gambling costs the government £40m - £160m in Job Seekers Allowance claimant costs and lost labour tax receipts. According to the report, problem gambling costs the Government a further £10m - £60m in housing, and £40m - £190m in the criminal justice sector.
Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, speaks on the findings of the research: “Problem gambling is an issue which affects millions of people across Britain each day. We’re working hard to raise awareness of the issue and to help people see the true cost of gambling addiction.
“GambleAware is keen to put problem gambling on the public health agenda, as it’s no different to any other kind of addiction. It’s our job to raise awareness of the issue and to let people know that there is help available. We fund treatment centres across the UK and urge anyone who thinks they or a loved one has a problem to get in touch, or call our national gambling helpline for free, confidential advice.”
Craig Thorley, research fellow from the IPPR, also comments on the research: “For many, problem gambling is a hidden addiction. IPPR’s research shows the scale of the challenge for Britain’s public services for the first time. This should be a wakeup call to government. We need a proper strategy to deal with this issue, just like we’ve had for other public health issues such as alcoholism.”
“This strategy must make sure that effective services are available to help those affected, and also consider whether we have the right regulations and prevention strategies in place to stop those at risk of problem gambling from being pulled over the edge.”