Westminster City Council has joined forces with Manchester City Council to tackle gambling issues in the community through the first research project of its kind in the UK.
The 2 councils, with the support of the Local Government Association (LGA), today launched a research project to identify those most at risk of gambling problems and gambling related harm in the community.
The project is being conducted by the 2 local councils because they found similar concerns about gambling and a need to work together to identify and map at-risk individuals within the two cities.
“This project is the first of its kind in the UK and is the first attempt to identify who are the most at risk and vulnerable to gambling in our community”, Councillor Tim Mitchell, Chairman of Westminster’s Licensing Committee, said.
“Problem gambling is a hidden addiction and only manifests itself when individuals reach the point at which they need help. It also can have disastrous effects on families."
Councillor Kate Chappell, Manchester City Council’s executive member for the environment, said: “People living with gambling problems do not draw attention to themselves, and the issue has been very hard for authorities to deal with because so little is known about who these people are.
“For the first time ever, this research will enable us to understand who is at risk of developing a gambling problem, where these groups can be found, and whether any new measures need to be put in place in those areas.”
The local authorities have commissioned Geofutures Ltd to undertake the research in both local authority areas to tackle gambling-related harm.
The authorities and its research partner will be mapping the at-risk groups across the city’s communities. Geofutures will also be developing a vulnerability index to gauge the level of risk to gambling across the city.
Both authorities and Geofutures will be engaging with trade and other key stakeholders to understand what each stakeholder defines as vulnerable and for them to engage within this piece of work.
Geofutures’ Heather Wardle said: “We’re really excited to get this piece of research underway, developing previous findings and methods to explore vulnerability to gambling-related harm more deeply and how this may be distributed in each area. It’s inspiring to see two local authorities from different parts of the country co-operating to maximize the value and relevance of this work.”
Research outcomes will be shared with industry groups; care providers, local residents and other key stakeholders so that appropriate consideration can be given to gambling and its effects on the local population.
Both councils will also, as part of its gambling strategy, set out policies that will require operators to consider these local risks and provide adequate mitigation to address them.
The research can also be used to support the industry in identifying local areas of risk to gambling, and care providers can use it for targeted intervention for care provision, education and treatment.
The councils have engaged with the industry, gambling care providers (such as GameCare and the NHS National Problem Gambling Clinic in Soho) and academics that specialise in gambling research.
Geofutures is an independent research house specialising in statistical analysis and mapping of complex data. The company has built its gambling data experience working with organisations including the Responsible Gambling Trust, The Campaign for Fairer Gambling and Channel 4 Dispatches, and has partnered with market researchers NatCen who produce the regular Gambling Prevalence Survey. Geofutures has recently established the Gambling and Place Research Hub by partnering with Dr Heather Wardle, who formerly led gambling research at NatCen Social Research. The Hub will investigate the relationships between gambling behaviour, location and community.
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