Londoners asked to share impact of gambling on their health

New enquiry launched by London Assembly committee to look at how gambling addiction harms people’s health, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

London Assembly member Onkar Sahota (credit LDRS/Noah Vickers)
London Assembly member Onkar Sahota (credit LDRS/Noah Vickers)

An investigation has been launched into the impact of gambling on Londoners’ health, with City Hall urging anyone affected to share their experiences.

The enquiry will ask participants how a problematic relationship with gambling can affect someone’s health, what support is available from the NHS, and what mayor Sadiq Khan can do to help reduce any harms.

Led by the London Assembly’s health committee, the investigation is open to anyone with “experience or knowledge of the health impacts of gambling in London”.

It comes after NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard warned over the summer that the health service is seeing “record numbers of people” requesting treatment for gambling addiction.

She said that referrals to NHS gambling harms services had risen by more than a third since last year. There were 1,389 referrals in 2022/23, compared with 1,013 in 2021/22.

NHS England now plans to treat up to 3,000 patients every year across 15 clinics.

The Gambling Commission has meanwhile estimated that 0.3% of the population – roughly 138,000 people – may be engaged in ‘harmful’ gambling.

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A further 2.9% – about 1.3 million people – are thought to be engaged in either ‘moderate or low risk’ gambling.

Committee chair Dr Onkar Sahota said: “Government data suggests that harmful gambling is linked to higher rates of suicide, depression, alcohol dependence and drug use, and it is estimated that gambling-related health harms in England costs up to £1.5bn per year.

“Following an announcement that NHS support services for people experiencing harms from gambling are being expanded in London, we want to find out how many people in London are thought to be engaged in harmful levels of gambling, and what more can be done to support those affected.”

Dr Sahota, a Labour member representing Ealing and Hillingdon on the assembly, added: “We want anyone who has engaged in harmful gambling or has been affected by someone else’s gambling to share their experiences with the health committee.

“We exist to be the voice for Londoners and your experiences will help to inform our work and recommendations to the mayor.”

To participate in the call for evidence:

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