When the World Cup ends later this year, the UK is expected to have spent an estimated £2.5bn on bets related to the tournament. It is no secret that Britain loves a bet. With one of the highest rates of gambling globally, Sky Bet’s slogan “It matters more when there’s money on it” seems to ring true.
Awareness initiatives such as Safer Gambling Week, happening from 17-23 October, are therefore vital in stimulating conversations around how gambling can and should be done safely. Also working with operators themselves, as Better Change does, is another way of ensuring change is achieved.
Individuals and operators need to work together.
To the 45-percent of the population who participate in some form of gambling activity, it is usually a harmless hobby. While undoubtedly a great source of entertainment, an extreme side exists. Problem gamblers can find their “hobby” disrupting or damaging to them and their families’ lives.
In a cost-of-living crisis where household budgets are already being constrained, problem gambling can lead to serious debt problems. As people look to a stroke of luck to supplement their incomes, a worrying increase in harmful gambling can be expected. Furthermore, problem gambling can also result in poor mental health with the addiction claiming the life of one person every day.
Both individuals and betting operators need to work together to protect people from gambling harm, this issue cannot be solved without collaboration. Individuals suffering from problem gambling usually do not show outward signs of their struggle. It is therefore vital that people can find and access help and support so that gambling harm does not seriously affect them and their families’ lives. Together we can protect against gambling harm.
Helping “problem gamblers”
Support must be provided from when the addiction is identified, through to the multiple stages of recovery. Recovery can a long and challenging process, which is why firm strategies need to be put in place to support individuals with problem gambling.
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A mixture of therapy and self-led courses – such as the twelve-week course developed by Better Change – can help people take the first steps towards recovery by making them feel like they are not alone.
Raising awareness is vital alongside individual efforts. This is why we have recently entered a partnership with Southampton Football Club to promote safer betting amongst their fans. We recognise that betting can help elevate the experience of fans so to help strike a balance, we provide safe gambling resources both online and in-person during matches – this can take the form of therapy sessions or providing contact details of gambling helplines.
Working with operators to achieve change
Individual efforts, as laudable as they are, can unfortunately only go so far in helping individuals overcome problem gambling. Working with gambling operators and regulators is just as essential to protect consumers, enabling them enjoy gambling safely and freely.
We believe prevention is always better than cure when it comes to addressing gambling harm. Safer gambling needs to start at the source, which is why our work with betting operators is vital. In order to make the industry more transparent, we deliver recommendations and form benchmarks alongside betting companies and their stakeholders. Constructing a system of mechanisms that are built into the gambling industry to warn them about the dangers works provides a top-down solution to helping people overcome harmful gambling habits. At best, it can even prevent problem gambling from happening.
Better Change’s Gambling Awareness course is an example of how working with operators can help achieve change. The course allows operators to implement intervention strategies for players they identify as high-risk, such as those returning from a period of time out or self-exclusion. Consisting of four-modules, the course can be sent by operators via a live interaction through Customer Service or the Safer Gambling team, by email, text, or in-play messaging, allowing players to reflect on their gambling habits and hear from those with lived experience. The course also contains further resources if needed. By giving operators some responsibility, they can help ensure players are in control of their gambling.
Gambling harm disproportionately affects low-income individuals and families and is an urgent societal issue. It can be enjoyed safely, but steps must be taken to ensure it is done in moderation. Individual efforts are vital but betting operators also need to assume some responsibility in tackling problem gambling.