Journal of Public Health

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 215–217 | Cite as

Mainstreaming gambling-related harm in Britain as a public health issue

  • Jim Fearnley
  • Eleanor Roaf
  • Sanju George
  • Clare Gerada



In this paper we make the case for gambling–related harm treatment services in Britain to be mainstreamed within the remit of public health. Although the focus of this article is on the British situation many of these issues are generalisable to other jurisdictions.

The profile of problem gamblers

In Britain, 0.9 % of adults are problem gamblers, and it is more common in the young, socially deprived and the ethnic minorities.

Who provides and who should provide treatment services?

At present in Britain, almost all dedicated funding to address gambling-related harm is provided by voluntary contributions from the gambling industry and the level of service provision is far from adequate.

Mainstreaming gambling treatment

Problem gambling is associated with a range of health and social harms yet it often goes unnoticed for a variety of reasons. Early interventions can minimise or prevent the negative effects of problem gambling on various spheres of the gambler’s life, his/her family and wider society.


Consistent with plans to move the commissioning of drug-misuse treatment services within the remit of public health, it would seem entirely logical to commission gambling-related harm treatment services from the public health ‘purse’, and to request that gambling-related harm falls under the remit of the new Health and Well-Being Boards.


Problem gambling Gambling–related harm Early intervention Public health Commissioning Treatment 



Thanks are due to Heather Wardle of NatCen for her contributions to the drafting of this article.

Conflict of interests

Jim Fearnley was formerly head of policy and research at the Responsible Gambling Fund (RGF), and is now a freelance consultant. Dr Sanju George has received funding from RGF for research and was the clinical lead for RGF-funded review of clinical frameworks in gambling treatment services across England. Eleanor Roaf is a Consultant in Public Health in NHS Manchester and a member of the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jim Fearnley
    • 1
  • Eleanor Roaf
    • 2
  • Sanju George
    • 3
  • Clare Gerada
    • 4
  1. 1.Responsible Gambling Fund (RGF) and Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB)LondonUK
  2. 2.NHS ManchesterManchesterUK
  3. 3.Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation TrustBirminghamUK
  4. 4.Chair, Royal College of General PractitionersLondonUK

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