A recent Health Impact Assessment (HIA) conducted by the Public Health Institute at Liverpool John Moores University has brought to light concerns about the prevalence and impact of gambling in Guernsey. The study, which was commissioned in 2019, examined the health implications of the island’s gambling habits and revealed troubling trends that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the findings, 79.9% of respondents in Guernsey engaged in gambling activities over the previous year, surpassing the figures for neighboring jurisdictions such as the Isle of Man and Great Britain. The most popular form of gambling was the Channel Islands Christmas Lottery, with 67.5% participation, followed closely by the purchase of scratch cards.

Dr. Nicola Brink, Director of Public Health, expressed concerns about the impact of the pandemic and ongoing economic challenges, indicating that the current situation might be more severe than the study indicates. The HIA employed a mixed-methods approach, including a postal survey, qualitative interviews, and a stakeholder workshop, and was conducted between September 2019 and February 2020, facing delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key findings from the study revealed that gamblers exhibited a higher prevalence of poor health indicators compared to non-gamblers, including issues such as overweight/obesity, regular GP visits, tobacco smoking, binge drinking, violence victimization, and perpetration. The study also identified 6.7% of Guernsey adults as ‘at-risk’ gamblers and 0.9% as ‘problem’ gamblers, with at-risk gambling being more prevalent among males and the 18-24 age group.

Jenny Cataroche, Head of Public Health Intelligence, emphasized the need for actions to address at-risk and problem gambling, highlighting the potential positive effects on individuals, families, and communities. The report recommended measures such as raising awareness of the harms of problem gambling in school-based education settings, enhancing support for at-risk and problem gamblers, clarifying pathways to access support, and considering policy and legislation changes to protect vulnerable islanders.

In response to the concerns raised by the study, STSB Senior Lottery Officer, Jon Taylor, affirmed their commitment to promoting responsible play and announced initiatives to address the issues, as well as conducting additional research to inform the future direction of the Channel Islands Lottery.

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