Gambling and Harm Minimisation
Gambling is the wagering of something of value on an event that is based on chance or randomness, where instances of strategy are discounted. This includes a range of activities such as playing casino games, fruit machines, lotteries, horse or greyhound races and football accumulators. It also extends to other activities such as speculating on business, insurance and stock markets.
A person who gambles is taking a risk on the outcome of an activity that has the potential to be a financial loss, or the result of another adverse consequence, and the potential to have psychological or social consequences for themselves, their family and friends, or their community. It is an addictive activity that can lead to significant harms including a decline in health and wellbeing, financial difficulties, relationship problems, work or study issues, debt, substance misuse, criminal activity, gambling addiction, depression, anxiety and suicide.
Problem gambling is an issue that can affect people of all ages, backgrounds and from all walks of life. It can damage the physical and mental health of individuals, their families and their communities and lead to unemployment, poor performance at school or work and homelessness. It can have a negative impact on all aspects of an individual’s quality of life and it is often hidden from family and friends.
People gamble for a variety of reasons and some do not experience any harm, whilst others find it hard to stop gambling, even when it causes them serious problems. In addition to a desire to win money, some people gamble as a way of alleviating stress or as an escape from their everyday problems. Regardless of the motivation, many people who gamble do not realise that their gambling can have an adverse effect on their lives.
A functional definition of harm was developed to provide a basis for understanding the types and breadth of experiences that may be associated with gambling. This identifies the different ways that harms manifest for a person who gambles, their affected others and the broader community in a manner consistent with a public health approach to harm minimisation.
Harm minimisation in gambling is a key focus for governments around the world, as well as treatment providers and other organisations. It involves identifying and managing the risks associated with gambling, and implementing strategies to minimise these harms. The term ‘harm minimisation’ is often used within the context of gambling policy and practice, but there is currently little agreement about what this means.
The HM Treasury and the Advisory Council on Gambling have developed this definition to help clarify its meaning. It is a useful tool for those working in the field of gambling harms, as it allows them to identify and understand the different types of harms that may be associated with gambling. The HM Treasury and the Advisory Council also recognise that there are other factors besides gambling behaviour which contribute to gambling harms, such as wider societal, environmental and economic factors.
Gambling is the wagering of something of value on an event that is based on chance or randomness, where instances of strategy are discounted. This includes a range of activities such as playing casino games, fruit machines, lotteries, horse or greyhound races and football accumulators. It also extends to other activities such as speculating on…