Young People Need A Voice On Gambling Laws, Says RSPH

May 5, 2022
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​​​​​​​The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), a charity whose members comprise more than 6,000 public healthcare professionals from around the world, wants young people to have more of a say on gambling and gaming laws after it was “surprised” by the findings of a new survey.

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The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), a charity whose members comprise more than 6,000 public healthcare professionals from around the world, wants young people to have more of a say on gambling and gaming laws after it was “surprised” by the findings of a new survey.

The gambling and gaming survey received 545 responses from 11 to 26 year-olds and was commissioned by Young Scot, an organisation supported by the Scottish government, and Fast Forward, a youth work charity. The survey itself was undertaken by the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE).

The findings that were surprising to the RSPH included that 60 percent of young people had opened a loot box in a game and that 24 percent had gambled in the last 12 months.

Among those that had gambled, 25 percent said their gambling had affected them in some way, including feeling less in control and more likely to describe their own gambling habits as an addiction.

Additionally, of the respondents who have someone close to them that gambles, 33 percent said they were worried about them, leading the charity to call for more research into the impacts on young people as a group of “affected others”.

“Given children and young people’s vulnerability to harm, and their more limited opportunities for influencing policymakers and service providers, it is particularly important to create space for young people across Scotland to have their voices heard,” said Christina Dineen, project development officer at Fast Forward.

The RSPH said a possible explanation for the difference between the estimate of young people affected by gambling in its survey and the Gambling Commission’s own estimate that only 4.4 percent of young people are at-risk or experiencing harm is that people are more likely to take part in the Young Scot survey if they have been affected by gambling.

“It also may be that our respondents experienced relatively mild impacts that might not be captured by the DSM-IV ‘problem gambling’ screen used in the Gambling Commission’s survey,” Dineen said.

Varying methodologies used to estimate the numbers of people experiencing gambling harm have been thrust into the spotlight in both the UK and the EU in recent weeks.

GambleAware’s recent estimate that 1.4m people in Great Britain are experiencing gambling-related harm was challenged by the Gambling Commission and trade group the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).

A spokesperson for the regulator said at the time that “regardless of methodology it is important that we all recognise that there are a significant number of people who suffer harm, and we are committed to making gambling safer”.

The Gambling Commission is currently piloting a new method for the collection of official national gambling statistics to improve the frequency, depth and currency of its data.

Soon after GambleAware’s controversial estimate, a study written for the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) argued “highly diverse” methods of recording problem gambling in Europe make it difficult for any valuable cross-country comparisons to be made.

Separately on Tuesday (May 4), the BGC responded to recent demands by the UK National Health Service’s most senior gambling addiction experts for operators to pay a new multi-million-pound statutory levy to help prevent and treat problem gambling.

BGC chair Brigid Simmonds wrote that a statutory levy “would be a big step backward in tackling problem gambling” in an op-ed for ConservativeHome.

“We believe the current system is making good progress, and in any event, a blanket levy would not raise materially more money for research, education, and treatment. But it would disproportionately hammer casinos and bingo halls, where a one percent hit on turnover equates to a 10 percent hit on profits,” Simmonds wrote.

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