ABSG: First Progress Report and Year Two Recommendations

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The Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG) issued Thursday its first progress report, urging stakeholders to speed up progress towards achieving the goals. The independent advisory body was set up to support the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms initiative by the Gambling Commission, a 3-year plan for cross-industry collaborative approach implementation.

Towards a Safer Gambling Environment

The National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms was launched in April 2019 by the country’s gaming regulator and steps on two main approaches towards achieving its goals, prevention and education, and treatment and support. The ABSG outlines as a significant step forward the increased number of stakeholders that actively participate in the process of reducing gambling harms, with progress noted in both prevention and treatment.

Another area of success the independent body sees in the government’s manifesto commitment to undertake a review of the Gambling Act during this parliamentary season, outlining the already implemented changes regarding credit cards usage, age verification checks, customer interaction requirements and self-exclusion measures as key steps towards achieving the common goal.

The ABSG emphasized in its report the need to accelerate action on the strategy, setting up recommendations for the second year of the plan, among which the establishing of a safer gambling league and a wide use of key baseline metrics for setting and achieving targets.

Regarding measuring gambling harm, the ABSG expressed a strong need for sustainable independent funding as a precondition for further progress, calling for the implementation of a statutory levy to guarantee availability of financial resources.

Gambling Harm Leads to Lost Lives

The report stated that the most urgent area for improvement is the correlation between gambling-related harm and the number of people committing suicide, hailing the prevention efforts from Gambling with Lives charity in drawing the public attention to the issue.

“The ease of gambling has increased significantly in recent years. Individuals can access gambling sites on their smartphones at any time and any place where they have access to the internet. We address three specific concerns about online gambling and gambling-like activities and gambling’s growing association with e-sports, all of which have implications for children, young people, and those vulnerable to harm.” Dr Anna van der Gaag, Chair, ABSG

The independent body asked for an increased participation from people who have suffered directly from gambling-related harm, a continuation of the step undertaken last week by the Gambling Commission to collaborate with an interim group made up by people who have experienced personally the ill effects from gambling.

While acknowledging the progress regarding the NHS, in particular its proactive stance and commitment to open 14 new treatment clinics, the ABSG called for a larger participation by the NHS, as it should lead the creation of a national treatment strategy, a cornerstone for the progress expected during year two.

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