It has been another quiet week in the world of Safer Gambling, assumedly because Monday was a national holiday in both the UK and the US. There have been a few stories though, so let’s take a look.
GamCare have announced their new three-year organisational strategy for the period 2021-24, with the new mandate building on the success of their 2018-21 objectives.
During that period, GamCare supported over 100,000 people who were experiencing gambling-related harm, with their main target for the next three years being to ensure that access to such treatment is maintained across all public health networks within the UK.
Since 2018, GamCare’s services have gone far beyond operating their National Gambling Helpline, with the charity aiding treatment in 160 specific locations all over the UK. They have also trained over 23,000 healthcare professionals to identify harms associated with problem gambling.
Their new strategy has been adapted to take into account the unique challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, particularly in the areas of mental health. Key will be the removal of barriers to treatment for people on low incomes as well as minority ethnic communities.
GamCare stated: “We see that the pandemic is widening existing inequalities and we will work to make sure that gambling support is available to all regardless of where they live.”
The CEO of GamCare, Anna Hemmings, continued: “Over the next three years, we want to put gambling harms on the map and ensure more people know about them. We will expand our services to make lasting and positive changes to those harmed by gambling.”
The full details of their strategy can be found here, with the four key points of their mission being:
1) Gambling harms are widely recognised and prevented.
2) Universal access to effective tools and support.
3) Universal access to caring, evidence-led and integrated treatment.
4) GamCare’s work is trusted, valued and effective.
Later in the week, GamCare stated that despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, they will continue to host their dedicated online chatroom sessions aimed at women and those who identify as female.
These sessions were launched during the COVID-19 pandemic following concerns raised by GambleAware off the back of NHS research which showed that women experience greater social stigma and stronger anxiety when trying to seek help for gambling addiction.
“Women can be disproportionately negatively impacted by gambling-related harms, which include financial, relationship and mental health issues,” GamCare said in a statement.
“GamCare’s Women’s Programme works to support women affected by gambling harms to access the support they need. Our team will be supporting this dedicated chatroom for women, offering a safe space to share experiences and understand how your experiences can influence better responses for women across gambling support and treatment services.”
Gambless have introduced their ‘Play It Safe’ initiative to retail betting outlets, with flyers detailing the support available on their app being distributed both in the UK and abroad. The focus will strongly be on safer gambling, particularly for those who wager at high street casinos and betting shops. In the UK, the move follows the reopening of betting outlets last month after four months of lockdown.
The flyers will include a PGS1 self-assessment test for bettors and a free code to be able to access certain psycho-educational resources on the Gambless app, which are tailored to supporting people who are experiencing gambling-related harm.
The CEO of Gambless, Maurizio Savino, said: “As we slowly get back to normal, we are seeing more gambling operators reaching out to us, interested in learning how they can keep their players protected. These days we hear the words ‘reopening safely’ very often; for gambling venues ‘safely’ has a double meaning – both from a sanitarian standpoint and with regards to responsible gambling. It’s important we all remind ourselves which habits are healthy and which ones can become harmful.”
Gambless utilises OBT and Gestalt therapy tools in the fight against problem gambling, with the app certified by both the NHS and ORCHA.
Savino continued: “We encourage all operators to be proactive and distribute informative materials to customers, as they return to populate their outlets. We are aware that land-based establishments are coming from a tough year, thus we are offering our resources freely, without asking any contribution to operators. Same goes for gamblers, who can access our psycho-educational resources for free until the end of 2021. This is particularly important, as this is a time when several major sport summer events return after the pandemic, like the Euro 2020 Cup and the Tokyo Olympics.”
Finally, Gamban have struck a new partnership with The Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia, which will see their online gambling blocking software made available for free across the state.
The Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia employs over 70 state-wide therapists and has helped over 15,000 people since its founding in 2000. Their state-wide program includes a 24-hour helpline, support groups, special weekend retreats and referrals to gambling addiction specialists.
Gamban point out that data from the National Council on Problem Gambling suggests that 2% of residents in West Virginia may have a gambling problem, while WalletHub has suggested that the state is the sixth “most gambling-addicted” across the whole of the US.
Gamban’s Melissa Etherington said: “I am very pleased to be working with The Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia and happy that this partnership will provide an extra resource and layer of protection for those whose gambling has become a problem for them in West Virginia.”
Meanwhile, Jennifer Davis-Walton, the Director of Gambling Addiction Services at First Choice Services, Inc, said: “It is exciting to partner with Gamban to provide a valuable tool for so many. With more accessibility to online gambling, the benefits of Gamban software are immeasurable for those experiencing gambling problems.”