The UK gambling industry has no law to comply with in regard to the provision of help for so-called "problem gamblers", however, the UK Gambling Commission responsible for oversight of the industry is responsible for assessing and monitoring the numbers of people involved who do have a gambling problem.
The primary mechanism for achieving this is through The British Gambling Prevalence Survey which is a national survey conducted throughout the UK population and focuses on participation of gambling and the prevalence of gambling issues. So far there have been only two such surveys carried out, one in 1999 and the last in 2007 primarily due to the scope of such a large scale survey being carried out. It is now expected that a survey will be carried out every three years and the next is scheduled for 2010 and will take a more in-depth look at gambling in the UK and the impact it has on individuals, both gamblers and those connected to them such as family, friends and employers as well as general society as a whole. The 2010 survey will specifically seek to identify a pool of "problem gamblers" to take part in further research and study in conjunction with the work of the Gambling Commission.
The Gambling Commission is not working alone in this area; the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has joined forces to research problem gambling and its impact so policies are put in place to ensure gambling operators act in a socially responsible fashion to minimise the problem. The Gambling Commission also works very closely with an independent charity, Responsibility in Gambling Trust whose principal objectives are to address problem gambling, to provide effective treatment regimes and fund education and research.
More recently, the Gambling Commission instituted a research initiative into existing problem gambling solutions and concluded that the entire apparatus is in need of improvement. This report acknowledged that the existing voluntary structure is in danger of falling short of the government standards expected from the industry and if it is to avoid having an imposed framework (hence more law and more regulatory control which in turn means increased cost to the operators) a new framework which will encompass the problem and potential solutions more fully is needed.
Through the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, support and treatment are available through both the National Health Service and a range of charitable and voluntary organisations established to help gambling addicts, their families and support them through the financial and social implications of being an addict. In addition there is also the Gambling Aware website which provides online assistance for those who are affected by gambling problems as well as their families.
In summary, the existing voluntary framework established by the industry and now overseen by the UK Gambling Commission is outdated and inadequate to the task set before it. The industry is taking steps to establish a framework to address gambling issues and to minimise the adverse impact of gambling on individual customers, those connected to them and society as whole. The alternative is a levy imposed upon the industry to fund the solutions imposed by government authority.