With the May Day break behind us, it has been a busier week in the world of Safer Gambling, so let’s take a look at the stories that have been hitting the headlines.
GamCare have revealed that 71.5% of calls by under-18s to the National Gambling Helpline are from those struggling personally with a gambling-related issue. This compares to 20% expressing worries about a family member or friend and 8.5% who were considered ‘at risk’ of developing harmful gambling behaviours.
Launching their new ‘BigDeal’ website, described as ‘a dedicated hub for young people’, GamCare have stressed there is an ‘imminent need’ to address the issue of problem gambling amongst youngsters. The ‘BigDeal’ website provides information, advice and support both to young people experiencing gambling-related harm and their parents. Teachers, social workers and youth workers can also access training materials via the portal.
On the initiative, the CEO of GamCare, Anna Hemmings, said: “Since lockdown, we’ve not only heard stories from our helpline that reveal young people are increasingly experiencing more parental gambling but there is also rising concern for potential harms to young people who gamble themselves.
“It’s been an extremely difficult year for young people, with many using the internet and social media not only to be in touch with friends, but also as a form of escapism. This makes it harder for parents to tell when their child might be displaying unhealthy behaviours, as often the symptoms, such as being withdrawn, can be confused with other issues and challenges teenagers face in this difficult period of their lives.
“That’s why we hope BigDeal will be a resource that speaks to young people in plain terms on the core issues related to gambling, the harms they could encounter, plus how they can get further support from our helpline.”
Supporting the launch, a video has been released in which boxing YouTuber Viddal Riley and neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis discuss how gambling impacts a young person’s brain development, highlighting how increased dopamine sensitivity at that age means teenagers are more vulnerable.
It has been a busy week for GamCare, who have also partnered with Samaritans to develop new training materials for gambling operators with the aim of increasing the awareness of gambling-related suicide.
The content will aid betting company staff by enhancing their skills and providing the confidence needed to support at-risk customers. Guides will also be offered on how staff can look after their own wellbeing, particularly while supporting others.
GamCare highlighted that 11% of problem gamblers who used the National Gambling Helpline in 2019 and 2020 told them that they had experienced or were experiencing suicidal thoughts.
GamCare and Samaritans will pool their experience and resources to offer training and guidelines to gambling companies as well as identify potential changes across the industry.
Hemmings said: “Pairing our experience and expertise of training the gambling industry and treating gambling harms with Samaritans’ expertise in suicide prevention will make a real difference to those most at risk. With the isolation of lockdown exacerbating gambling harms for some people, it is more important than ever that our support services unite to help gambling businesses identify and support their customers at risk of harm.
“With proper training providing new skills and expertise, the industry and its staff can play a vital role in identifying vulnerable customers at risk of harm.”
Meanwhile, Samaritans Learning and Development Consultant Rachel Evans stated: “GamCare already delivers excellent training on reducing gambling-related harms and our collaborative effort will be the first bespoke training on suicide prevention specifically. We’re proud to have created these much-needed resources with GamCare and urge all gambling businesses to demonstrate their commitment to suicide prevention by enrolling in the training as soon as possible.”
Big Step Campaign
On Wednesday, the Big Step campaign along with 60 advocates of gambling law reform, including a number of MPs, called for a suspension of gambling advertising during next month’s Euro 2020.
In a letter to the major UK TV, radio and online outlets, they wrote: “The tournament has been a long time coming and after a tough time for the country, fans should be able to enjoy it without being on the end of gambling advertising, especially given the pressures of the pandemic.
“Whilst we support adults’ right to bet should they wish, gambling advertising has no public health benefit and contributes to harm, yet it is nearly impossible to watch or listen to football without being exposed to it.
“Promoting gambling, including products with addiction rates of up to 50%, is a huge contradiction to the good work that football does, and we are concerned that this normalisation is creating a generation of young fans who think they have to bet to watch or listen to a game.”
The Founder of the Big Step, James Grimes, said: “I founded the Big Step as a recovering gambling addict that was hooked in by football betting. I love the game passionately but we cannot let its damaging relationship with gambling advertising continue. Football has been a beacon of hope throughout the pandemic and the Euros will be a reason to celebrate as we hope the recovery continues. But they should not be a platform to promote addictive and harmful gambling products.”
Slots Temple have become the latest member of Responsible Affiliates in Gambling (RAiG), an independent body whose aim is to raise affiliate standards. Slots Temple join the likes of Better Collective, Racing Post and Oddschecker, who all founded the group in 2019, having been audited to ensure they meet RAiG’s strict entry criteria.
Fraser Linkleter, chief marketing officer of Slots Temple, said: “It is essential in today’s market that affiliates are as professional and trusting to players as casino operators. Being part of RAiG is a big step for Slots Temple to evidence our commitment to our users and build trust in the brand. The process itself is stringent, to say the least and quite rightly so. Delving deep into an affiliate’s operation, how we conduct ourselves, how our staff are trained in responsible gambling, how our ongoing processes have been set in place and actioned, and most importantly, how we present ourselves to protect the public.”
Finally, Greentube have announced they have donated to BetBlocker as part of their Research, Entertainment and Treatment commitments. This is the second successive year that Greentube have donated to the free-to-use self-exclusion application, which can be used to prevent access to a large number of gambling websites.
Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media