Research: Gambling Regs Should Link Gambling, Public Health

A public health journal in the U.K. has published research concluding that regulatory bodies have failed to recognize problem gambling as a public health hazard, worthy of publicly funded research.

Research: Gambling Regs Should Link Gambling, Public Health

A study published by The Lancet medical journal suggests that worldwide gambling laws and regulations should recognize the links between public health and gambling, and provide more public funding for problem gambling research.

Research led by teams from the University of Glasgow and the University of Helsinki analyzed gambling legislative changes between 2018 and 2021, using a sample of 33 jurisdictions in Europe, Asia, Africa and America, selecting those with policies emphasizing health and consumer protection.

The study found that while most gambling jurisdictions recognize problem gambling as a health issue, most tend to attribute its cause to the individual gambler, rather than studying societal impacts.

“Often portrayed as a harmless leisure activity in the U.K., gambling is being increasingly recognized as a public health concern,” reads the study’s conclusion. “However, a gambling policy system that explicitly tackles public health concerns and confronts the dependencies and conflicts of interest that undermine the public good is absent in the U.K.

“Although there is a window of opportunity to change the gambling policy system, with the U.K. government’s launch of a review of the Gambling Act 2005, the adoption of a comprehensive and meaningful public health approach is not guaranteed. Too often, government policy has employed discourses that align more closely with those of the gambling industry than with those of the individuals, families, and communities affected by the harms of gambling.

“In view of the well-described commercial determinants of health and corporate behavior, an immense effort will be needed to shift the gambling discourse to protect public health. In this viewpoint, we seek to advance this agenda by identifying elements that need challenging and stimulating debate.”