London Assembly launches gambling inquiry

The inquiry will make policy recommendations to London mayor Sadiq Khan.
The inquiry will make policy recommendations to London mayor Sadiq Khan.

The Public Health Committee aims to understand the health impacts of gambling in the UK capital.

UK.- The London Assembly has begun an inquiry into the health impacts of gambling. Led by the Public Health Committee, it aims to make policy recommendations to London mayor Sadiq Khan for initiatives to reduce gambling-related harms.

The inquiry began with a call for response that seeks lived experiences insights into the availability of support services for gambling-related harm in London’s boroughs. The consultation is open until November 29 and wants insights on changes in gambling participation, the prevalence of gambling-related harms and the effectiveness of support services. The London Assembly has invited those with experience or knowledge of these areas to provide written evidence 

It says the information provided will be used to inform the committee’s work and final recommendations. Written submissions can be emailed to [email protected] with ‘Health Committee call for evidence’ as the email subject line. Some submissions, and the names of contributors, will be published for transparency.

The London Assembly cited statistics from the Gambling Commission that estimate that 0.3 per cent of the UK population may be engaged in harmful gambling and data from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) suggesting that gambling-related harms in England have an impact ranging from £754m to £1.47bn a year.

London Health 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.”

Two years ago, London mayor Sadiq Khan introduced a ban on gambling advertising on The Tube, something that had been a manifesto pledge.

Last month, London’s oldest casino closed its doors after 195 years. Crockfords casino in Mayfair, London, first opened in 1828. However, a fall in the number of customers has led its current owner, Genting UK, to close the venue following a 30-day consultation process.

The move follows the closure of other well-known London casinos The Ritz and The Clermont, which closed due to the fall in high-rollers caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In the case of The Ritz, Hard Rock has acquired its licence but has not opened a casino. Some 100 staff who worked at the casino will either be relocated or made redundant.