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87% of those harmed by gambling demand more post-pandemic support says GamCare user survey

  • Polling of those affected by gambling harms by leading gambling support service GamCare shows 87% say not enough is done to reduce the harm gambling can cause
  • Removal of sponsorship on football shirts and more targeted support for young people, women and BAME communities needed
  • Data will be used in GamCare’s response to the 31st March consultation on the 2005 Gambling Act review in calls for further provisions

Lived experience must drive reform
GamCare has put its service users’ views at the heart of its response to the government’s consultation on the review of the current Gambling Act. 343 people responded to a recent survey about how to tackle gambling issues in the UK, and their experiences highlighted the need for:

Increased investment in research, education and treatment to protect and support those at risk of or experiencing harm from gambling.

  • GamCare’s Safer Gambling Standard to be highlighted as a useful quality mark for licenced gambling businesses, to signify best practice for consumers.
  • More safer gambling messaging to be used by gambling businesses – including clear signposting to the National Gambling Treatment Service.
  • A collaborative approach to finding the right combination of measures to regulate online gambling and reduce gambling harms.
  • Investment in inclusive support that reflects the needs of young adults, women, and members of BAME communities, who are currently under-represented in treatment services.
  • Consideration of greater resources to be given to industry regulation, reflecting the true scale of the sector, and the introduction of an Ombudsman to deal with complaints from the public.

The survey also highlighted that people harmed by gambling would value:

  • A halt to gambling companies sponsoring football shirts. An overwhelming 80% of those surveyed want to see a ban on gambling companies sponsoring sporting events, with 83% specifically favouring a ban on sponsoring football shirts.
  • Further restrictions on advertising to children and young people, as 84% of respondents say not enough is done to restrict gambling advertising from children and an overwhelming 89% want to see access to gambling taken away from children completely. 83% of people surveyed also said they want to see more help for the targeted 18-25-year-old age bracket.

GamCare’s support and treatment services are available to people with a gambling problem themselves, plus family members and friends who are worried about their loved one. Advisers are available on the National Gambling Helpline 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

More than half, 55%, of people answering GamCare’s survey had received some form of help including talking therapies delivered by gambling charities.

Further views from those affecting by gambling harms including family members and friends speaking to the need for social change to connect those who gamble with the risks from the outset, including:

  • Raising awareness of the risks associated with gambling early on, and normalising discussion about gambling. Gambling has the potential to be harmful, and not talking about makes this worse.
  • Better safeguarding for gamblers experiencing harms, such as further gambling limits – 71% of respondents want to see further limits introduced to online gambling accounts and 83% want to see a ban on ‘VIP’ schemes which reward people for gambling more.
  • Raising broader awareness through the media to highlight how gambling problems affect gamblers, their families, relationships and how this can lead to even more worrying problems like domestic abuse. One of the surveyed users said: “Given the amount of screen time gambling companies receive, it literally subconsciously fuels gambling addiction.”

84% of respondents also said they want to see gambling companies cover the cost of research, education and treatment for gambling harms.

In response to the survey, Anna Hemmings, CEO at GamCare, says:

“The recent pandemic has only increased common risk factors including isolation, boredom and money worries. Young men under 35 make up the majority of those who seek help via our Helpline. We want to encourage anyone who is worried about themselves or a loved one to contact us – we can offer expert advice and arrange for them to get the support they need. The review of the 2005 Gambling Act has come at just the right time as we are climbing out of lockdown in the UK, and the increase those seeking help with their online gambling has become a worrisome problem. We want people to realise the first step is to seek non-judgmental help from our trained advisers after what has been a terribly damaging year for us all. Gambling is a serious health harm and we welcome discussion to bring this problem to the forefront of addiction issues, and to ensure we can secure sustainable funds to meet the needs of those affected.”

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