Glasgow City Council is to stage a summit with academics, third sector, health professionals, youth workers and individuals who have suffered with gambling problems in order to examine related challenges in the Scottish city and develop a new framework for action.
The plan was approved at a meeting of the Council’s Wellbeing, Empowerment, Community and Citizen Engagement City Policy Committee, where a number of specialist speakers put forward their ideas to reduce gambling harms.
The Committee discussed various key factors related to gambling, including the changing landscape of the industry, associated health and financial problems, the rise in popularity of online gaming, increased marketing and advertising spend, and the impact on young people.
Following an open debate, the Committee concluded staging a summit would be the most effective course of action, with the aim of developing a whole systems approach to the prevention and treatment of individuals impacted by gambling.
Speaking on behalf of the Committee, Councillor Bailie Annette Christie said that Glasgow has a longstanding problem with gambling and as the more traditional approaches are not working, more must be done to tackle related issues.
“The gambling sector has changed over recent years and therefore how we tackle the problems that arise from gambling addiction and how it impacts other areas of a person's life, needs to change too,” Christie said.
“We need to treat gambling the same as alcohol and smoking addictions have been treated in the past – as public health problems. We need a new approach and to look at all the different policy areas including health, education, planning, licensing, and financial inclusion that could be used to treat and support people and prevent the harm in the first place.”
Other key outcomes from the meeting included a commitment to take steps to learn more about what works in order to limit and prevent harm by exploring best practice examples from across the UK and internationally.
The Committee will also advocate for a stronger focus on education and review suitability of educational activities and programmes, as well as review support available to council staff to take account of online gambling and ensure those who are at risk of, or are experiencing gambling harms can to access help.
Meanwhile, the Committee also called for closer work with partners to ensure appropriate care pathways that meet the needs of users, and to consider the actions required to facilitate partnership working across a range of agencies to explore the further development.
In addition, the Committee said both the Council and Licensing Board should continue to work with the GB Gambling Commission, as well as the Scottish and UK Governments, to look at what more could be done to counteract the impact of clustering of environmental harms.
Image: Barnabas Csomor