Leaked Letter Suggests UKGC Probing Link Between Suicides and Gambling

The UK is in dire need of a gambling regulation reform and it’s been delayed multiple times now. In a leaked letter it becomes apparent that regardless of the lack of changes in place, there is still activity behind the scenes. Bereaved families have always fought for immediate action, but the process of change is at least still ongoing, if not fruitful right away.

Ten Suicides Under Spotlight

The Daily Express reported on a leaked letter it claims to have seen. The letter addresses ten suicides and was sent out to an unspecified large number of operators from the Gambling Commission in the UK. As per the report, the letter inquires about ten suicides and is trying to determine if there’s any link between the suicides and gambling.

Operators were reportedly asked whether any of the suicide victims was a player with them and if and how much they’d lost. The watchdog is basically trying to identify if there is any link between the ten victims and gambling – whether or not they were present in any client databases, their gambling habits, whether they were experiencing any problem gambling behavior, and so on.

This is definitely a sign that the leaked letter shouldn’t be treated as a sign for anything other than the Gambling Commission trying to gather more information about these ten suicides. This might possibly be the start of some research, but it’s a highly unlikely one if that’s the case.

Problem Gambling in the UK

In May this year, we saw the end of the tragic case of Jack Ritchie – the 24-year-old English teacher who had taken his life back in 2017. His death was widely accepted as being directly related to problem gambling and the grieving family had condemned the government’s response, deeming their efforts insufficient, to put it mildly.

UK families affected by gambling harm have long been loudly outspoken in their dissatisfaction with the government’s responses and the lack of adequate preventative measures has been an especially egregious shortcoming that’s often being brought up in the discussion. A 2021 Public Health England (PHE) study looked at the number of suicides linked to gambling in England and the results were extremely worrying, with the estimation numbering 409 every year.

This exact number has been used and reported on in many publications, along with the “19 times more likely” figure when discussing the likelihood of suicides among people affected by gambling harm or suffering from problem gambling. Both figures have been disputed both disputed and proved multiple times, thanks to the extreme difficulties in establishing causal relationships for something as complex as suicides.

Regardless of the numbers, the UK is home to loudly-named “Gambling with lives” charity-driven community of families that have lost family members thanks to gambling-related suicides. It’s wrong to name problem gambling as the sole cause for suicide, however, it’s painfully obvious to the bereaved families that problem gambling can be extremely detrimental in those cases when unfortunate suicides do happen. This is among the most devastating examples of how inadequate problem gambling help can be, and how so many needs to change ASAP so that the number of families in this community doesn’t increase.

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