Agenda item

Research into vulnerability to Gambling Related Harm

Report of the Strategic Director, Communities and Environment (attached).


The Committee received an update on recent research into the way that local authorities can protect vulnerable people from gambling related harm by improving the understanding of local area risk. The Committee also received the results on work commissioned by Westminster and Manchester City Councils which was published in 2016.


In 2015 Westminster and Manchester City Councils commissioned a study to:-


·         To explore and document the range of characteristics that suggest someone is vulnerable to harm from gambling

·         To investigate how these characteristics can be measured at a local level, using a range of different data, and

·         To develop a local risk index model showing areas where those who may be more vulnerable to harm are located with the aim of mapping results visually, so that areas of potential risk are highlighted with the intention that these results become a tool for both local authorities and industry when making decisions about the location of gambling venues, helping them to think through the specific needs of local communities and enabling them to work together to develop plans to protect vulnerable people



The first aim of this study was to consider the types of people who may be at greater risk of harm from gambling and where they might be located. Based on review of existing research evidence, it was concluded that the following groups are potentially more vulnerable to harm from gambling:-


·         Youths

·         People affected by substance abuse/misuse/excessive alcohol consumption

·         Poor mental health

·         People living in deprived areas

·         Certain ethnic groups

·         People with low IQs

·         People with personality/cognitive impairments

·         People seeking treatment for gambling problems

·         People who are unemployed


Having identified these groups, the Committee were advised that the next stage was to bring this information together to create local risk indices, showing areas with greater concentrations of people who are more likely to be vulnerable to harm.


The Committee were advised that the models using were probabilistic – just because an area is highlighted as being at greater risk, does not mean that all people in those areas will experience harm. The models suggest that there may be greater propensity for harm and therefore greater consideration should be given to attempts to militate this.


The models are based on current knowledge and available data – they are limited to areas where more research has been conducted and where good quality local level data are available.


The evidence base used to develop the models shows those vulnerable to gambling problems rather than gambling-related harm is broader than problem gambling.



The Committee were advised that the recommendations arising from the study were:-


The Gambling Commission’s introduction of Local Area Risk profiles represents a new opportunity for local authorities and industry alike to think more deeply about the protection of vulnerable people from gambling-related harm. This means extending understanding of local area risk beyond mapping deprivation and considering a more nuanced range of factors.


Local authorities interested in pursuing this approach should start to consider the different types of data they have available and how these can be used in local area profiles.


Local authorities should also start to consider what data and/or evidence is missing and how they fill these gaps, working with different departments within the authority to capture relevant information.


The models developed are based on the best information currently available. An acknowledged limitation of gambling research is the paucity of evidence available. The study recommends that the models are periodically reviewed and updated to take onto account growing knowledge, better data and changes in local areas.


RESOLVED – that the information be noted

Supporting documents: