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Gambling regulation: problem gambling and protecting vulnerable people

Around half of adults in Britain participate in some form of gambling. People
gamble when they pay to engage in a game of chance and win a prize of monetary
value, including in arcade games, online bingo, casinos or betting on sports. Gambling
is a major industry in Great Britain, which generated £11.3 billion of yield (bets placed
less winnings paid out) for gambling operators, excluding the National Lottery,
in 2018‑19. The industry also raises around £3 billion a year in gambling duty.

Gambling can have significant adverse effects on people, particularly when it
becomes addictive. These effects include mental health problems (which can also
be a cause of gambling problems), relationship difficulties, large-scale financial loss
and, in some cases, crime or suicide.

The level and range of harms experienced differ
from one person to the next and can be made worse by poor or negligent conduct
from gambling operators, for example by encouraging people to play more. ‘Problem
gambling’ is gambling considered disruptive and harmful to a person’s health and
well‑being. Harm from gambling is not restricted to problem gamblers, and can also
affect other gamblers, friends, family, co-workers and anyone else impacted by a
person’s gambling.

The Gambling Commission (the Commission) regulates commercial gambling
in Great Britain. All gambling operators must have a licence, and the Commission
has powers to set licence conditions and codes of practice, and to monitor and
enforce compliance with these. It seeks to ensure gambling is fair and safe, and is
guided by a statutory objective for gambling licensing to protect children and other
vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling. It also has statutory
licensing objectives to prevent gambling from being a source of crime and to ensure
gambling is conducted fairly and openly, a duty to advise government on gambling
regulation, and separate objectives relating to the operation of the National Lottery.

The Commission is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department
for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and is funded by licence fees from
gambling operators.