GambleAware and its driving force ‘to encourage behaviour change’

Marc Etches GambleAware
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In its Winter Newsletter, GambleAware chief Marc Etches signalled the organisation’s objectives and aspirations for the year ahead.


Keeping people safe from gambling harms requires the application of a public health model that accounts for three aspects of prevention: universal promotion of a safer environment (primary); selective intervention for those who may be ‘at risk’ (secondary); and, direct support for those directly affected by gambling disorder (tertiary). Guided by this public health model, GambleAware commissions prevention and treatment services on a national scale across three areas of activity:

We work to prevent gambling harms by producing national health campaigns to build awareness and encourage behaviour change, and by providing support to frontline services and organisations to inform, to educate, and where appropriate, to deliver brief interventions;

We commission the National Gambling Treatment Service that brings together the National Gambling Helpline and a network of providers across Britain, including the NHS, to deliver a range of treatment services;

We seek to optimise knowledge and to provide thought leadership on prevention, addiction and treatment in gambling via an extensive research & evaluation programme.

At the heart of our charitable purpose is an objective to help build sufficient resilience for children and young people to avoid gambling harms. Primarily, we do this by working in strategic partnership with expert organisations.

In partnership with gambling treatment providers and advice and support organisations, 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 – leading to the development of the National Gambling Treatment Service, triaged via the National Gambling Helpline.

The commitment by NHS England to open 15 specialist gambling clinics, including provision for children and young people, over the next five years is the clearest indication that the harms arising from gambling are beginning to achieve an equivalence in terms of public policy response to the harms arising from other risky behaviours.

GambleAware is identified as a key partner in the NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan, 2019-24 and our funding of the Northern Gambling Clinic in collaboration with the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is a demonstration of what can be achieved in a partnership between government, the statutory sector and the charitable sector with industry funding.

The General Election saw something of a cross-party consensus about the need to address some big issues in relation to gambling. A new Conservative government has promised to review the Gambling Act 2005 to update it for the digital age including putting the voluntary levy on a statutory footing. Also, we can expect a new UK-wide addiction strategy, including gambling, under the remit of a new, dedicated monitoring unit at the heart of Government.

The political response reflects public concern about the extent of gambling-related marketing, the impact of technology making gambling more easily accessible and the convergence of gambling and gaming. For GambleAware that means increasing our efforts in building the evidence base through rigorous research, producing resources and national campaigns to encourage behaviour change, and providing support to frontline services and organisations to inform, to educate, and where appropriate, to deliver brief interventions. We have recently published a briefing note which brings together information about all the work we are doing and the impact we have had – I urge you all to take a look.

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