In the UK, licensed gambling operators are held to high standards when it comes to promoting responsible gambling. While measures such as deposit, loss and time limits can help gamblers remain in control of their gambling activity, the reality is that problem gambling and addiction make it much harder for sufferers to make use of these factors effectively, if at all.
It’s relatively common for people to become addicted to gambling’s positive feedback loop of risk and the potential for rewards. According to YouGov in 2020, around 2.7% of adults in the UK are problem gamblers. This means that over 1 in 50 UK adults are struggling to manage the time and money they spend on gambling and it’s having a detrimental impact on their lives. Continuous efforts are being made across the industry, from legislators through to charitable organisations, to bring this number down and ensure that support is available for people for whom on-site limiters aren’t enough.
There are a number of UK gambling charities that provide such help to those who are suffering, as well as their loved ones. If you or someone you know is struggling with gambling problems, you don’t have to face them alone.
Let’s take a look at what kind of support is available and where you can find it.
GambleAware is a charity that funds problem gambling-related education and treatment in Great Britain. While GambleAware commissions these services and helps those in need to get support as soon as possible, the organisation doesn’t provide them directly.
The charity is overseen by the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG), which itself estimates that GambleAware requires funding of at least £10 million per year to cover its responsibilities suggested under the National Responsible Gambling strategy. Much of this funding comes from UKGC-licensed gambling operators as part of their compliance to the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP). Licensees must make an annual financial contribution to organisations that have a formal commitment to “research into prevention and treatment of gambling-related harm, develop harm prevention approaches and identify and fund treatment to those harmed by gambling”.
GambleAware also operates BeGambleAware.org which provides information to help gamblers make informed decisions about their gambling activities. This website has a range of different resources, including guides on how to gamble safely and how to recognise problem gambling, as well as information on who to contact if you’re looking for support.
Founded in 1997, GamCare provides confidential and impartial support and advice to those affected by gambling addiction. Funded by voluntary donations that are managed by GambleAware, the charity offers support and resources for both problem gamblers and their families. GamCare seeks to minimise problem gambling in the UK by increasing awareness of problematic behaviour and providing education on how to gamble responsibly.
As part of its aim to support those affected by problem gambling, GamCare operates both the National Gambling HelpLine and NetLine, telephone and live chat services that offer one-to-one advice and support, as well as advice on next steps. The HelpLine and NetLine services are open from 8am until midnight, seven days a week, offering specialist advice to those affected by gambling problems. Gamblers can also make use of GamCare’s online forums and group chat rooms at any time to share their experiences and seek advice from others in similar positions.
The charity regularly audits its services to ensure high quality, and it’s accredited by external bodies such as The Helplines Partnership, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the British Assessment Bureau (ISO 9001).
Contact GamCare via HelpLine (0808 8020 133) or live chat.
Gordon Moody Association
Gordon Moody Association (GMA) provides residential support and treatment for those that are severely addicted to gambling. The charity opened its first support centre in 1971 and now has two UK treatment centres focused on helping problem gamblers and addicts to recover effectively. GMA also offers online support via its Gambling Therapy service and app. Its staff and volunteers are a mix of those that have direct experience with problem gambling by having either suffered themselves or supported a loved one, trained counsellors, and support workers.
GMA also offers support to people after their initial treatment, helping with their reintegration into everyday life and to maintain their recovery. You can apply online or over the phone for GMA’s residential services, but you can also refer someone if you’re a concerned family member, friend or social or health worker. It’s important to note that the referred person must agree to receive help. Applicants will undergo an interview process prior to acceptance to ensure that the treatment is suitable for them.
The services are mostly free, thanks to funding from GambleAware, GamCare, and voluntary donations. However, residential services may require additional contributions from participants.
Contact Gordon Moody Association via telephone (01384 241292) or email ([email protected])
Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust
According to UKGC statistics, 26% of 11 to 16-year-olds have seen their parents gamble and 66% have seen gambling advertising on television. The Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) seeks to minimise and prevent the impact that such exposure to gambling has on young people. This charity was founded by Lee Willows following his own problematic experiences with gambling. Recognising that charities were key to his recovery, he wanted to give something back to prevent others from experiencing similar problems.
YGAM conducts research into the relationship between young people and gambling. It also provides gambling-related harm prevention programmes for young people, as well as delivering accredited training to teachers, youth workers, and others in a position of authority to deliver these programmes. This scheme and its resources have been accredited by ASDAN and its quality-assured by the PSHE Association.
Problem Gambling Support Services
There are also peer support services for those addicted to gambling and those affected by gambling addiction.
GamblersAnonymous UK was founded in 1964 and operates a number of support groups around the UK for gamblers with compulsive habits. The groups provide peer support meetings across the country for those in recovery, as well as online chat rooms and forums for recovering compulsive gamblers to share their experiences and advice throughout the day.
GamAnon runs support groups for friends and families of compulsive gamblers to provide practical assistance and comfort. While meetings are usually held in the same location and at the same time as GamblersAnonymous meetings, they take place in separate rooms and information is never shared between the two. GamAnon also runs online meetings every Sunday evening between 8 pm and 9 pm.
Problem gambling and addiction are complex issues, and it’s common for sufferers to have other issues and conditions that they also need help to overcome. Whether you or someone you know requires advice on debt management, mental health support or any other type of support, there are charities that can help:
Samaritans – You can contact Samaritans when you simply need someone to talk to.
National Debtline – The National Debtline provides free, confidential advice on how to deal with debt.
National Domestic Violence Helpline – This helpline offers confidential support to women and children, or friends of women and children, who have experienced domestic violence.
Respect Phoneline – Respect Phoneline provides information and advice for people that are abusive towards their partners.
Drinkaware – This organisation supports those that have concerns about drinking habits.
Report a loan shark – Check that a company is authorised to lend money and report illegal loan sharks that may take advantage of gamblers.
Don’t hesitate to seek help if you ever think that your gambling habits are spiralling out of your control or that they may be unhealthy. Any support you receive from these charities is completely impartial, confidential, and designed simply to help you recover and maintain your recovery.