Gambling Harm

Gambling-related harms are the adverse impacts from gambling on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, communities and society. These harms impact on people’s resources, relationships and health. 

Negative effects can include loss of employment, debt, crime, breakdown of relationships and deterioration of physical and mental health. At its worst, gambling can contribute to loss of life through suicide. 

Harms can be experienced not just by gamblers themselves. They can also affect their children, partners, wider families and social networks, employers, communities and society as a whole. 

Problem gambling’ is defined as gambling to a degree that compromises, disrupts or damages family, personal or recreational pursuits. The Gambling Commission currently measure problem gambling prevalence rates via a number of screening tools including the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). This screen measures the number of problem gamblers, moderate risk gamblers and low risk gamblers in a population.

On this screen: 

  • Problem gamblers are defined as ‘gamblers who gamble with negative consequences and a possible loss of control’. 
  • Moderate risk gamblers are defined as ‘gamblers who experience a moderate level of problems leading to some negative consequences’ 
  • Low risk gamblers are defined as ‘gamblers who experience a low level of problems with few or no identified negative consequences’. 

Gambling disorder is recognised by the World Health Organization. Gambling disorder is characterised by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gambling behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by: 

1. impaired control over gambling (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);

2. increasing priority given to gambling to the extent that gambling takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities;

3. continuation or escalation of gambling despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The pattern of gambling behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent.

The pattern of gambling behaviour results in significant distress or in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The gambling behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

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Further Gaming Advice


This section provides information on what parents need to know about gambling.


Educating parents around what gambling-related harm is and how it can impact young people’s lives.


Providing advice to parents on how to spot the signs of harm and how to talk to your children about gambling.