Public Health England (PHE), a now defunct executive agency in the UK government, has presented a report looking into the potential harm to society stemming from gambling-related activities. The latest report (update) is a continuation of previous research efforts made by the agency, which published similar findings in September 2021.
The present results put the total costs of gambling harms between £1.05bn and £1.77bn, with the exact figure still remaining a moving target. The exact number has been somewhat difficult to pinpoint, but the research has offered a breakdown of the numbers as it sees them.
The total cost of health-related harm from gambling is anything between £754.4m and £1.47bn, the research says. Of the estimated costs, between £241.1m and £971.7m is attributed to suicide and another £508m to depression, homelessness which contributes another £49m.
Some of the less serious issues, at least in terms of economic impact, remain alcohol dependence which costs around £3.5m, and drug use by individuals aged 17-24 which costs around £1.8m a year.
The report argues that there are direct harms that stem from criminal activity, estimated at £167.3m. To gauge the crime that stems from gambling, the report looked into 3,744-odd people who have been imprisoned over some offense linked to problem gambling behavior.
The number of suicides in society continues to be around 117 and 496, the report estimates, with no actual number being pinpointed. Organizations such as Gambling With Lives, who push for bigger changes in the industry, have argued that the number of deaths exceeds 400 people annually – a worrying number.
The PHE report also examined how stakeholders view the issue in general and what they say on social media and other media about it. The report looked into 302 respondents, 929 tweets, and 669 individuals from across eight categories of harms, such as general, health, financial, relationship, cultural, criminal, work, or study.
Similarly, the report discovered that pinpointing the exact profile of people who gamble tends to be fluid and changes often. As gambling risk increase, so does the profile of vulnerable individuals change, which may suggest that problem gambling is similarly linked to health inequalities.
For example, the report outright stated that deprived groups are at a greater risk of incurring gambling-related harm. This particular group consisted mostly of young men. The deprived group mentioned by the report generally has poorer mental health and is less likely to address or report struggling with gambling issues.
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