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Gambling Health Impact Assessment published

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Monday 22 January 2024

A pre-pandemic Health Impact Assessment (HIA) about gambling in Guernsey showed a higher proportion of those surveyed locally participated in one or more gambling activity in the previous year compared to neighbouring jurisdictions.

It found that 79.9% of Guernsey survey respondents had gambled compared to 75.9% in the Isle of Man and 57% in Great Britain. The highest gambling activity was the Channel Islands Christmas Lottery, followed by scratch cards.

The report, which has been published at, was commissioned in 2019 and produced by the Public Health Institute at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). It was asked to assess the health impact on the Guernsey population in relation to gambling.

Research has shown that recreational gamblers are more likely to report poor physical and mental health and increased risk of health risk behaviours such as nicotine dependence, alcohol use disorder and substance use. From a Bailiwick perspective further evidence was needed to, a) understand the prevalence and types of gambling in Guernsey; b) assess the impact on health and wellbeing, and c) assess support available for at-risk and problem gamblers.

The team at the Public Health Institute, LJMU, used a mixed-methods approach to complete the HIA.  This included a postal survey of a representative sample of the Guernsey population; a collation of qualitative (i.e. verbal) information obtained by interviewing stakeholders including those who run support services, and gamblers themselves in Guernsey; and a stakeholder workshop.

The research was carried out between September 2019 and February 2020, soon after which the COVID-19 pandemic significantly delayed the review and finalisation of the report.  Now, at the start of 2024, we are some four years on from when the data were collected and so the findings are presented for publication with the caveat from Public Health Services that they set out the pre-pandemic position for Guernsey and may since have changed.

Dr Nicola Brink, Director of Public Health said:

'It is my view that pandemic pressures and the ongoing economic challenges that have followed are likely, if anything, to have worsened or exacerbated the trends that were detected in 2019/2020. Hence, we can think of the findings as the minimum extent of the issues affecting Guernsey residents in 2024 and beyond.'

Key findings from the HIA were:

Jenny Cataroche, Head of Public Health Intelligence said:

'Overall, the report has allowed a much better characterisation of gambling in Guernsey than we had previously. This suggests that the majority of people in the island gamble and most do so without issue. However, the associations with poor health do not apply equally across all types of gambling, and there are some types of gambling where we see a strong association, or clustering, of poor health outcomes and health-harming behaviours.  One of these is scratch card use. The report found that where gambling occurs at a problem, or at-risk level, there can be strongly negative consequences affecting not only the gambler, but friends and family too. Action to avert at-risk and problem gambling would therefore be expected to have a positive ripple effect that goes beyond the individual to partners, friends and children. Scratch card use that is currently at a much higher level than in other places is a stand-out finding from the report.'

Dr Brink added:

'The report offers a number of recommendations, including raising awareness of the harms of problem gambling in school-based education settings; enhancing support for at risk and problem gamblers; making the pathways to accessing support clearer and considering policy and legislation matters to ensure that protection is given to vulnerable islanders.'

STSB Senior Lottery Officer, Jon Taylor said:

'All the funds raised by the Channel Islands Lottery go towards support for local community and sporting initiatives, charities and other worthy causes across the Bailiwick. As the operator, we want to ensure that we continue to support that objective but at the same time ensuring participation in any of the lottery games is an enjoyable experience. That is the case for most islanders but we understand that for some, excessive play can be a problem and that can impact negatively on them and on others. We have therefore been working with our distributor and network of resellers to develop initiatives that promote responsible play, which is about being informed about the risks and knowing your limits.

'A number of changes have been implemented since this research was carried out, and together with our distribution partners and with the help and support of Guernsey's addiction service provider, the States' Trading Supervisory Board will prioritise actions this year to further highlight and promote responsible play. Building on the evidence from this study, it will also be carrying out additional research that will help inform the future direction of the Channel Islands Lottery, as part of a major review.'

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