William Eichler 15 February 2016

Councils tackle gambling-related harm with ‘cutting edge’ research

Councils tackle gambling-related harm with ‘cutting edge’ research image

Two local authorities have become the first in the UK to map people at risk of gambling-related harm in their communities.

Westminster and Manchester City Councils have published reports which show who may be at greater risk of harm from gambling - because of mental health issues or addictions, for example - and where they might be located.

This information, which has been compiled by data science consultants Geofutures with the support of the Local Government Association (LGA), will help make it easier to understand the potential impact of gambling premises.

It will also better inform decisions about the location of new outlets.

At the same time, it will also help gambling operators to put in measures, such as more staff and changes in opening hours, which can help alleviate the possible negative affects of gambling.

In the Gambling Act 2005, children, the young and the vulnerable are singled out for special regulatory attention, with the aim that they should be protected from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

This was then expanded in April 2016 when the Government made it a requirement for all industry operators to undertake local area risk assessments to explore the risks gambling venues might pose to young and vulnerable people.

Pointing out how difficult it is to identify people living with gambling problems, Cllr Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council's executive member for neighbourhoods, said: ‘This is a cutting edge piece of research that has never been done before, and will enable us to understand who is at risk of developing a gambling problem and where these groups can be found.

‘We will be able to use this information whenever we develop new policies to deal with gambling venues across the city.’

Cllr Nickie Aiken, Westminster City Council cabinet member for public protection and chairman of Westminster’s licensing committee, said: ‘We are not against the gambling industry per se, but we think that it is important to understand the impact on areas in which they operate.’

Cllr Aiken continued: ‘It is in the best interests of those running gambling premises to reduce these negative impacts. This research is a major step forward – it will make for better local decisions and help deliver real practical change to people’s lives.’

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