We welcome an acknowledgment of the links between mental health and problem gambling in the Government’s white paper.

Karan Chhabra, our Policy and Public Affairs Officer, called for further Government recognition of the role counselling and psychotherapy can play in addressing mental ill-health caused by problem gambling and investment in access to therapy.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has published High Stakes: gambling reform for the digital age outlining how the Government will reform gambling regulation.

Government white paper

The white paper includes proposals for the introduction of a statutory gambling operator levy that ensures gambling operators will help to fund treatment services and research.

It also includes new stake limits on betting terminals, and greater protections for young people and those who are considered at a greater risk of harm from problem gambling. 

With 0.5% of the population in the UK considered to be experiencing problem gambling, and 3.8% gambling at ‘elevated risks’1, this long-awaited update to UK gambling regulation is welcomed.  

We’re pleased to note a recognition of the links between problem gambling and mental health, as well as reference to the links between problem gambling, heavy alcohol use, unemployment and mental health and wellbeing.  

This supports what we know from existing data, that the socio-demographic profile of problem gamblers is statistically more likely to be those who are unemployed and, or people living in more deprived areas.

This reinforces pre-existing health inequalities that are being increasingly widened due to the cost-of-living crisis, Karan said.

Counselling and psychotherapy

Karan said: “It was positive to see an acknowledgement within the White Paper of the links between mental health and problem gambling.

“We know that mental health services, including counselling and psychotherapy, can be life-changing for people suffering from mental ill-health due to problem gambling.

“We’d therefore welcome further recognition from the Government of the role that counselling and psychotherapy can play in addressing this need, and for investment in mental health to be part of the upcoming reforms."

1 UK Government (2023) Gambling related harms evidence review

2 University of Oxford (2021) Gambling research: The ‘fun’ can stop with unemployment, ill-health and even death