England: gambling-related harms and the huge cost to society

22 November 2021

Public Health England (PHE) has published the first evidence review of harms associated with gambling – estimated to cost society at least £1.27bn a year.

The analysis includes the first estimate of the economic cost of suicide (£619.2m) and an updated cost of homelessness associated with harmful gambling (£62.8m).

Gambling-related harms include a bankruptcy and employment issues, family issues, and health harms such as anxiety.

The review found that people at risk are concentrated in areas of higher deprivation, and may already experience greater health inequalities.

There was also a clear link between higher levels of drinking alcohol and harmful gambling, including in children and young people.

Those who said they had a mental health condition were 2.4 times more likely to be a gambler experiencing gambling-related harms. Gender and poor mental health were the strongest indicators of gambling-related harm.

Rosanna O’Connor, director of alcohol, drugs, tobacco and justice at PHE, said: ‘The evidence is clear – harmful gambling is a public health issue and needs addressing on many fronts.’

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