University of Bristol launches new £4m centre in bid to ‘transform’ gambling harms research

University of Bristol
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The University of Bristol has this week launched The Gambling Harms Research Centre (GHRC), Great Britain’s first academic research hub.

The GHRC aims to “transform research on gambling harms” by developing deeper academic resources and evidence-led insights to share learning with domestic and international stakeholders.

Funded by a five-year, £4m grant awarded by GambleAware, the centre will operate as an independent hub and expects to secure additional funding to drive growth beyond the end of its current term.

GambleAware has been a prominent voice in attempts to promote safer gambling, investing £2.5m to expand The Gambling Education Hub Service (GEHS) across England and Wales last month and calling for the introduction of a mandatory levy on companies.

Zoë Osmond, CEO of GambleAware, commented: “This investment, awarded following a rigorous selection process, underlines GambleAware’s commitment to independent, world-class research to build the evidence base on gambling harm.

“The new Gambling Harms Research Centre is a major step forward, bringing together new and exciting methodologies with a clear focus on impact in one of the country’s top universities. We are incredibly excited by the long-term benefits that this work will bring by driving new public health approaches to reduce gambling harms for a wide range of communities.”

The GHRC will work closely with several other institutes at the cutting edge of research in the south-west, including the Bristol Digital Futures Institute, the Bristol Poverty Institute, and the Bristol Population Health Science Institute.

Co-Director Agnes Nairn, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Global Engagement and Professor of Marketing, said: “We desperately need interdisciplinary research on a large scale to truly understand the complexities of gambling harm as a serious, current public health issue. 

“The University of Bristol, home to world-leading research centres in health, innovation, poverty, co-production and digital futures, has already brought together researchers from every faculty to be part of the new hub.

“Our aim is to attract the very best international researchers from computer scientists to anthropologists to work with us on tackling this very under-researched area.”

Stakeholders underlined the importance of the GHRC’s launch, as current data showed gambling returning to pre-pandemic levels, with concerns further emphasised after the UK’s cost of living crisis.

The announcement comes ahead of what is expected to be an imminent publication of the highly-anticipated white paper, a governmental review of gambling legislation in the UK since the formation of the Gambling Act 2005.

Gambling Minister Chris Philp added: “I welcome this additional resource from GambleAware to help deepen our understanding and awareness of gambling-related harms.

“We are currently undertaking our own comprehensive review to ensure that the protections in place to prevent harm are right for the digital age, and we will be publishing a white paper shortly.”