This post is by William Griffiths who is about to take up a new post with the Scottish government.

Will has led the Alliance for Health and Social Care Scotland’s project, Scotland Reducing Gamblinng Harms ince its inception last year. During his leadership period the project has found a very solid foundation for the future.

We wish Will all the best as we thank him for excellent leadership and facilitating so many networks, especially the voices of lived experience.

Scotland Reducing Gambling Harm


The ALLIANCE’s Scotland Reducing Gambling Harm programme[1] aims to put the voice of people affected by gambling harms at the heart of action to reduce those harms. The programme was established in February 2020 and has since been engaging people with lived experience of gambling harm to identify policy priorities and accelerate the delivery of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.[2]

Gambling can cause significant harm to people; including relationship breakdown; money problems; stress and anxiety; and in some extreme circumstances, suicide. For every person that experiences problems with gambling, on average six other people in their lives will be negatively affected.

“Sadly at 25 years of age I tried to take my own life. At that point I wasn’t going to gamble again. But it was too powerful. I came out the hospital and next day I was gambling. I went on to steal. That’s where the addiction took me to, to desperate, desperate measures.

My experience is you can recover. I have a beautiful life today. I have a loving, caring partner who I love with all my heart. I’ve got love in my heart, I’ve got happiness, I’ve got peace, I’ve got sadness. I’ve got all the emotions that one person should feel. And I’m able to be a mum, that’s all I ever wanted.”[3]

A key milestone for the programme so far has been the launch of the Lived Experience Forum, which has identified key priorities and actions to reduce gambling harm in Scotland.[4] In addition to the events with the Lived Experience Forum, the programme has organised around a dozen events with people with lived experience to understand their priorities to reduce gambling harm. These events have been held in partnership with many organisations, including We Are With You, COPE Scotland, Moray Wellbeing Hub and Gambling Watch Scotland. The programme also led work with the Scottish Public Health Network to identify key priorities in Greater Glasgow[5] and consulted people with lived experience to inform the response to the Gambling Act Review.[6]

The programme’s Year One Evaluation Report[7] identified a gap in the programme’s engagement with some key groups – especially women, young people and people from ethnic minorities. For this reason, the programme is keen to build on the engagement done thus far and reach new groups of people not yet engaged. The programme wants to share the emerging priorities identified so far and to understand what other areas we need to focus on to reduce gambling harm in Scotland.

In Scotland the key priorities for reducing gambling harm are:


  • Provide holistic, person centred help, support and treatment, ensuring that services are joined up and providing people with the right support, at the right time, in a place of their choosing.
  • Explore ways to increase public awareness of gambling harm and reduce stigma associated with gambling harm.
  • Build on asset mapping initiatives undertaken by the ALLIANCE and COPE Scotland.
  • Identify pathways to help, support and treatment for people experiencing gambling harm, and where necessary, establish new provision to fill gaps in existing services.
  • Increase awareness of help, support and treatment available amongst key professional groups, including primary care staff, debt advisers, prison staff, and third sector support staff.
  • Raise awareness and introduce lessons on reducing gambling harms in education settings.
  • Take steps to reduce the accessibility of gambling, e.g. preventing clustering of bookmakers.
  • Include people with lived experience in shaping the education, prevention, treatment and support available to people.
  • Ensure that communication is clear and inclusive.

At the UK level the priorities are:


  • Adoption of a public health approach to reduce gambling harm across Government policy.
  • Stronger regulation of online gambling, including a £2 pound limit on online slots and a reduction in speed of play. Stringent affordability checks to protect people who gamble from gambling harm.
  • A ban on all gambling advertising, marketing, and inducements across all channels.
  • The creation, adoption, and communication of robust gambling harm reduction messages co-produced with people with lived experience.
  • Dropping all use of the term ‘vulnerable’ and instead focusing on protecting ‘at-risk’ groups and adopting an equalities, intersectional and human rights based approach to reducing gambling harm.
  • Implementing a Statutory Levy on the gambling industry of at least 1% of Gross Gambling Yield to fund research, education, and treatment administered independently of the gambling industry.
  • The implementation of an independent redress body for people who gamble, similar to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
  • Empowering Licencing Officers in Scotland to take proactive steps to reduce gambling harm stemming from land-based gambling.
  • Ensuring that people with lived experience of gambling harm have a range of opportunities to inform the review process.
  • Inclusion of the Department of Health and Social Care in the Review of the Gambling Act process.

The programme has also gathered a series of print[8] and video[9] case studies of people’s experiences of gambling harm. These case studies have been used by ALLIANCE members and others to start conversations about gambling harm with the people they support and in communities. In addition, the programme is establishing a PhD on engaging people with lived experience on gambling, especially focused on engagement with women and people from ethnic minorities.












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