GambleAware: Two-thirds of British people hide gambling problems
As many as 2 in 3 adults (64%) in Great Britain who have experienced any gambling problem have kept their experience hidden, new research from GambleAware has revealed.
With almost 2 in 5 (39%) of those who hadn’t opened up stating feelings of stigma such as shame, guilt and fear of judgement represent key barriers to reaching out for support – the charity is issuing a call to end damaging stigma and encourage those who may be experiencing gambling harms to ‘open-up about gambling’,
Zoë Osmond, Chief Executive of GambleAware, said: “It’s alarming to see the number of people who are struggling in isolation. As a hidden addiction, gambling harms can be incredibly hard to spot from the outside. It is therefore critical that people impacted are aware of the wide range of support services available, and that they feel safe to come forward. Anyone can be impacted by gambling harms, but the first step is to open up and have that first conversation, ideally as early as possible.”
The campaign launch comes as research also suggests that most of the public believe certain gambling products, such as instant win games, are addictive, indicating how gambling harm can affect anyone and the importance of building empathy for those experiencing harm. Specifically, over seven in ten (71%) respondents said they believe instant win games are very or fairly addictive, followed by 64% for scratch cards and 62% for casino games.
Noteworthy football commentator Clive Tyldesley said: “I think that since I’ve started to work with charities and meet and talk with both people who gambled which were in recovery and bereaved family members, the thing that has struck me is how normal and unremarkable their backgrounds invariably are. Harmful gambling really can affect anyone and very often those suffering show no outward signs of their issues. It’s a silent, invisible problem because too often the gamblers disappear into their own feelings of embarrassment and guilt. They think they’re to blame when they are not, they think they’re alone when many others are wrestling with the same issues. Getting them to open up and talk is half the battle to beating the problem, either with people close to them or via the professional support the GambleAware website offers. The first conversation is maybe the most difficult but it’s the most soothing and the most important too.”
Professor Dame Clare Gerada said: “When I opened the doors of the nation’s first Primary Care Gambling Service a few short years ago, I was a relative newcomer to the challenges surrounding gambling. However, since then, my eyes have been thoroughly opened.
“Gambling is an addiction which can only be described as ‘uniquely’ awful: the ruin it wreaks on people’s lives can be complete and multi-layered; the collateral damage is also considerable as families and loved ones suffer alongside. Its inherently hidden nature means that, at the moment, people have to see their lives collapse around them before they get the help they desperately need. It doesn’t need to be like this. There is an incredible breadth of support service, from how to deal with debt, to how to stop gambling completely which people can access for free through the National Gambling Support Network, and I urge anyone concerned about their gambling to do so.”
Positively, the research also supports the benefits of opening up, as three out of four (76%) who had talked about their problems stated they felt better after speaking to someone. With gambling harms often manifesting as intrinsically ‘hidden’ and isolating, GambleAware is aiming to bring to the surface the power of conversations and provide reassurance that help is never far.