GAMSTOP and other organisations working to reduce gambling-related harms have launched a UK-wide university tour to promote the available support for students.
‘The Gambling Support University Tour’ is a joint venture by GAMSTOP, the national online self-exclusion scheme; YGAM, an award-winning education charity and RecoverMe, a mobile health application which helps anyone suffering from a gambling addiction.
Together, they have been visiting dozens of universities to speak to students and university staff about the issue of gambling-related harms and the training and support services they provide, distributing leaflets and dealing with inquiries. They have found there is strong interest in the issue, with many students visiting the stall and engaging in conversations about either their own or loved one’s gambling.
YGAM is providing free harm prevention training to university staff, student union officers and safeguarding leads to help them to identify signs of gambling-related harms and signpost students who may be struggling. The charity is also promoting their Student Hub website (www.students.ygam.org ) which provides students with a wide range of information, advice and guidance on the topic.
Higher education institutions and colleges which have taken part in the roadshow include Worcester, Central Lancashire, Northumbria, Bournemouth, Sheffield, Lincoln and Stoke-on-Trent, with a further 18 in Scotland visited by the Scottish Gambling Education Network in a similar initiative.
Earlier this year, a Censuswide survey of 2,000 students across the UK commissioned by GAMSTOP and YGAM found that 80% of them had gambled and 41% of this group admitted that gambling had a negative impact on their university experience, including missing lectures, assignment deadlines and social activities.
More than one third (35%) were using money either from their student loan, overdraft, had borrowed from friends or were taking out payday loans to help fund their gambling. Nearly one in five (19%) admitted to using their student loan to gamble.
The mean gambling spend for students was £31.52 per week and almost one in five (18%) admitted to spending more than £50 per week. Nearly four in ten (38%) said they gambled at least once a week, with 63% gambling at least once a month.
GAMSTOP and YGAM are planning to commission new research for the 2022-3 academic year to continue monitoring the issue and to inform future initiatives.
Fiona Palmer, CEO of GAMSTOP, said:
“The Gambling Support University Tour has been a great success and is an important initiative for all the organisations taking part. Gambling-related harm on our campuses is a subject that is rarely addressed, but for any students experiencing problems with their gambling, self-exclusion is one of the most important tools available, giving them valuable breathing space whilst they seek additional help”.
Daniel Bliss, Director of External Affairs at YGAM, said: “The popularity of the tour so far shows us that gambling harms is clearly an issue that universities are more conscious of. Universities offer support to their students on a variety of issues ranging from alcohol, drugs, and debt. We believe gambling should be given the same level of focus and this tour is helping to increase awareness and understanding.”