The National Gambling Helpline will be open 24 hours a day as part of a pilot scheme.
GamCare has announced a trial extension of National Gambling Helpline opening hours, offering round-the-clock support on gambling-related problems. Funded by GambleAware, the extended service is likely to be implemented on a permanent basis if successful.
As part of the trial, which began on 1st October, those in need can seek support via Freephone (0808 8020 133) and web chat, 24/7. This allows advisors to put them in touch with support services with minimum delay.
This extension seems like a natural decision, given that online gambling sites are open 24-hours. Helen Garratt, Director of Clinical Services, hopes “that the new availability of the National Gambling HelpLine will be able to match this round-the-clock activity and offer even more support.”
In fact, it’s overnight when little support is available that those affected can feel most isolated, according to Anna Hemmings, CEO at GamCare. However, with the new opening hours, gamblers can access “immediate support, advice and referral to [our] network of treatment services nationally” whatever the time of day or night.
According to statistics, this increased accessibility to support is of vital importance. It’s estimated that around 340,000 UK adults suffer from gambling problems. However, even more shockingly, 55,000 children (Aged 11 to 16) are also classed as problem gamblers. The new operating hours won’t simply help these people in need, but also support those at risk of developing a gambling-related problem.
Marc Etches, GambleAware CEO, shares his enthusiasm on the trial: “Our priority is to keep people safe and to ensure support services are easily accessible. As such, we are pleased to be funding an extension to the helpline’s operating hours.”
Earlier this year, the UKGC announced its new National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. According to Etches, the National Gambling Helpline is “a core element of an emerging National Gambling Treatment Service”, and these extended opening hours could contribute significantly to meeting the aims of the strategy.