A £ 4 million Gambling Harms Research Center (GHRC) has been launched to build greater understanding and evidence around the growing and diverse impact of gambling harms across Great Britain.
Led by renowned multidisciplinary research experts, the first of its kind research center will apply a public health approach to advancing best practice research to deepen understanding and raise awareness of gambling harms.
The independent hub is funded by a grant awarded by GambleAware, following a rigorous and competitive selections process moderated by an independent panel of experts.
The Gambling Harms Research Center (GHRC) will aim to transform research on gambling harms by bringing new disciplines into the field and building research capacity both in Britain and internationally. Spearheaded by some of the nation’s leading minds in public health, consumer research and personal finance, the GHRC is set to place Britain at the global forefront of evidence-based multidisciplinary action to prevent and reduce the negative impacts of gambling.
Recent data shows gambling is returning to pre-pandemic levels and, this, coupled with the rise of the cost of living and increase in people gambling online, means more people could be at risk of experiencing gambling harm. The first-of-its-kind academic center is set to address the issues through cutting-edge research that will deepen understanding, raise awareness, strengthen consumer protection in physical and online environments, as well as improve support and treatment which recognizes the interrelated nature of gambling issues. Pressing questions which the hub will look to address include how is gambling practiced, what initiates harmful gambling, and the role social inequalities play in exacerbating gambling harms.
Co-Director Agnes Nairn, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Global Engagement and Professor of Marketing, said: “We desperately need interdisciplinary research on a large scale to truly understand the complexities of gambling harm as a serious, current public health issue. The University of Bristol, home to world-leading research centers in Health, Innovation, Poverty, Co-production and Digital Futures, has already brought together researchers from every Faculty to be part of the new Hub. Our aim is to attract the very best international researchers from computer scientists to anthropologists to work with us on tackling this very under-researched area. “
The GHRC is an independent research hub funded by a grant of £ 4 million over five years from GambleAware, the leading national charity working to keep people in Britain safe from gambling harms.
Zoë OsmondCEO of GambleAware, said: “This investment, awarded following a rigorous selection process, underlines GambleAware’s commitment to independent, world-class research to build the evidence base on gambling harm. The new Gambling Harms Research Center is a major step forward, bringing together new and exciting methodologies with a clear focus on impact in one of the country’s top universities. We are incredibly excited by the long-term benefits that this work will bring by driving new public health approaches to reduce gambling harms for a wide range of communities. “
The new Hub will build on the University of Bristol’s strong track record of research to tackle gambling harms, which includes topics such as the impact of COVID-19 on gambling trends and harms, as well as the effects of gambling adverts and marketing on children and young people. It will champion novel interdisciplinary methodologies for gambling research, through knowledge and research integration from six faculties, spanning 26 disciplines, including: Personal finance, marketing, psychology, neuroscience, economic and human geography, engineering mathematics, and policy.
Co-Director Sharon Collard, Professor of Personal Finance and Research Director of the university’s Personal Finance Research Center, said: “Looking ahead, our aim is to build capacity in gambling harms research across academic disciplines – at Bristol, across Britain and internationally – to bring fresh insight that can make a real difference in preventing and reducing gambling harms at a population level.”
The GHRC will work closely with several other institutes at the cutting edge of research, including the Bristol Digital Futures Institute, the Bristol Poverty Institute, and the Bristol Population Health Science Institute.
The announcement comes ahead of what is expected to be the imminent publication of the Government’s review of gambling legislation introduced under the Gambling Act 2005, as it is widely recognized regulations have not kept pace with the proliferation of online gambling opportunities, children’s increasing access to gambling products, and advertising for sport and esports betting.
Gambling Minister Chris Philp said: “I welcome this additional resource from GambleAware to help deepen our understanding and awareness of gambling-related harms.
“We are currently undertaking our own comprehensive review to ensure that the protections in place to prevent harm are right for the digital age, and we will be publishing a white paper shortly.”
About the Gambling Harms Research Center:
- The Gambling Harms Research Center (GHRC) is the first Academic Research Hub in Great Britain specializing in gambling harms research. Centered in Bristol University, it was established with the ambition of delivering significant impact on the gambling research landscape, both within Great Britain and across the globe, through the inclusion of new and diverse areas of research.
- The GHRC was set-up by an initial five-year, £ 4 million grant awarded by GambleAware, as part of the charity’s commitment to build and diversify research capability in the gambling harms field in Great Britain.
- The grant is the culmination of an 18-month process of engagement with universities and academic experts, resulting in proposals from some of the country’s top universities to build a new multi-disciplinary center of excellence in gambling research. Proposals were assessed by an independent external panel of experts, using published assessment criteria.
- The GHRC is expected to secure additional funding sources further to this initial grant, to enable growth beyond the term of the grant award.
- The Hub will operate entirely independently of funding sources, choosing its own research agenda to support a public health approach to gambling harms.
- It will be solidly anchored in two University Health Research Institutes, ensuring a public health lens on all research:
- The Bristol Population Health Science Institute (which includes genomics, clinical trials and healthcare evaluation expertise), and
- The Elizabeth Blackwell Institute for Health Research (which specializes in interdisciplinarity expertise – including mental health).
- GambleAware is the leading charity (Charity No. England & Wales 1093910, Scotland SC049433) commissioning the transformation of treatment and prevention services, leading public health campaigns and keeping people safe from gambling harms.
- Up to 2.9 million people in Great Britain are at risk of harm from gambling. Gambling can harm people and their families financially, psychologically and physically. GambleAware works in close collaboration with leading organizations and experts including the NHS, government, local authorities and gambling treatment providers, to ensure that people get the information, support and treatment they need.
- Every year GambleAware funds access to free, confidential treatment for nearly 12,000 people and over 41,000 calls to the National Gambling Helpline.
- GambleAware is a commissioner of independent evidence-informed prevention and treatment services in partnership with expert organizations and agencies across Great Britain, with over £ 56 million of funding under active management.
- In partnership with gambling treatment providers, GambleAware has spent several years methodically building structures for commissioning a coherent system of brief intervention and treatment services, with clearly defined care pathways and established referral routes to and from the NHS – a National Gambling Treatment Service.
- The National Gambling Treatment Service brings together a National Gambling Helpline and a network of locally-based providers across Great Britain that works with partner agencies and people with lived experience to design and deliver a system, which meets the needs of individuals. This system delivers a range of treatment services, including brief intervention, counseling (delivered either face-to-face or online), residential programs and psychiatrist led care.
- In April 2021 GambleAware published a new five-year strategy which defined the charity’s vision of a society where people are safe from gambling harms. This vision is based on a whole-system approach, which acknowledges the many other organizations, networks and individuals, including those who have lived experience of gambling harms, that already play a key role across the system, or have the potential to do so in the future. Alongside this, GambleAware outlined its four key strategic priorities and four commissioning objectives which will help guide the charity as it strives to achieve its vision.
- GambleAware produces public health campaigns including ‘Bet Regret’ and its Women’s Gambling Harm Prevention campaign. The charity is responsible for the design and delivery of the campaign based on best practice in public health education. See: www.begambleaware.org/for-professionals/safer-gambling-campaign and https://www.begambleaware.org/advice-tools-support.