Gambling harm is everybody's business: A public health approach and call to action

P. Johnstone, M. Regan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


There is a growing consensus that gambling is a public health issue and that preventing gambling related harms requires a broad response. Although many policy decisions regarding gambling are made at a national level in the UK, there are clear opportunities to take action at local and regional levels to prevent the negative impacts on individuals, families and local communities. This response goes beyond the statutory roles of licencing authorities to include amongst others the National Health Service (NHS), the third sector, mental health services, homelessness and housing services, financial inclusion support. As evidence continues to emerge to strengthen the link between gambling and a wide range of risk factors and negative consequences, there is also a strong correlation with health inequalities. Because the North of England experiences increasing health inequalities, it offers an opportunity as a specific case study to share learning on reducing gambling-related harms within a geographic area. This article describes an approach to gambling as a public health issue identifying it as needing a cross-cutting, systemwide multisectoral approach to be taken at local and regional levels. Challenges at national and local levels require policy makers to adopt a ‘health in all policy’ approach and use the best evidence in their future decisions to prevent harm. A whole systems approach which aims to reduce poverty and health inequalities needs to incorporate gambling harm within place-based planning and draws on the innovative opportunities that exist to engage local stakeholders, builds local leadership and takes a collaborative approach to tackling gambling-related harms. This whole systems approach includes the following: (1) understanding the prevalence of gambling related harms with insights into the consequences and how individuals, their family and friends and wider community are affected; (2) ensuring tackling gambling harms is a key public health commitment at all levels by including it in strategic plans, with meaningful outcome measures, and communicating this to partners; (3) understanding the assets and resources available in the public, private and voluntary sectors and identifying what actions are underway; (4) raising awareness and sharing data, developing a compelling narrative and involving people who have been harmed and are willing to share their experience; (5) ensuring all regulatory authorities help tackle gambling-related harms under a ‘whole council’ approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-66
Number of pages4
JournalPublic Health
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Royal Society for Public Health


  • Commercial determinants of health
  • Gambling
  • Gambling related harms
  • Inequality
  • Local authority
  • Policy
  • Practice
  • Public health
  • Systemwide approach


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