In their response to the Department of Culture, Media and Sports consultation towards a Gambling Act White Paper the BMA calls for a focus on prevention of gambling harms, a cross-government working, a call for fully independent research and treatment, a recognition of the association between gambling and alcohol and smoking, attention to the burden of harms unequally carried by different population sectors, and the need for the NHS to treat gambling disorder in parity with other addictive disorders.

The full response is here.

 

  1. Executive Summary

1.1 The BMA welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s inquiry into Gambling Regulation.

1.2 Gambling is a growing public health issue, with the large burden of morbidity and mortality caused by harmful gambling causing increasing alarm in the medical profession.

1.3 Doctors are concerned that the regulation of gambling is inadequate and does not prevent people becoming gamblers or effectively manage those who have developed problems.

1.4 Gambling disorder must be recognised as being as serious and complex a medical problem as other addictions and be able to be treated on the NHS.

1.5 Reports show that 59% of adults in Great Britain had participated in gambling between 2020-2021. Some population groups experience a higher prevalence of gambling: men, young people, black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, and socially deprived groups.

1.6 There is a known link between gambling and behaviours associated with harm, such as drinkingb alcohol and smoking tobacco.

1.7 The BMA suggests four main approaches to better regulate gambling:

o Restricted advertising – to help control exposure, the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) should look further into a range of options ranging from restrictions on gambling advertising through to an advertising ban.

o Independent funding of research and prevention – the current system of voluntary contributions by the gambling industry to a central charity that funds research is not appropriate – instead, there must be a long-term focus on generating independent funding of research and prevention work.

o Focus on prevention – there should be a focus on public health approaches to tackle gambling harms through a combination of prevention methods, including restricted advertising and marketing, restricting licenses and availability, and strengtheningregulatory frameworks.

o Cross government approach – the decision making regarding the regulation of gambling should be made jointly by DCMS and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

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