In the wake of the world’s favourite horse race for online betting, a campaign is imploring those with a potential issue with gambling to contact support services and address gambling-related harms – an issue that is costing Britain £413 million per year*.
The Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (MVRP) has created three social media visuals to encourage people to recognise the early warning signs of gambling difficulties and to seek advice and support sooner rather than later (see attached).
Indicators include spending more time or money than intended, arguing with family and friends after gambling and being secretive about gambling behaviours.
Aside from being concerned that excessive betting could result in major debt, the MVRP is also worried that domestic strife and mental health issues might rise, too.
And so the posters and a dedicated webpage (http://www.gamblingharmsmvrp.co.uk) assuring those affected that they can turn to trusted organisations for help.
“We believe that the ease with which you can gamble online is making tackling gambling harm difficult and so we have used the very medium of online advertising to tell people there are those with the empathy and the experience to help them. Uncontrolled gambling is like other public health issues that need treating with compassion and understanding.”
Geraldine O’Driscoll, Temporary Director of the MVRP
To illustrate how accessible online gambling is, the MVRP pointed to Government research revealing that 1 in 10 children* have been involved in gambling or gaming in the last week.
Geographically, the North of England recorded the most gambling related harms. Although the issue is greater in men than women, the MVRP is conscious that 4%* of women experience issues – and so have produced three versions of their visuals, separately featuring two men and a woman.
“While many people are able to enjoy gambling safely, we also know it can be highly addictive and dangerous.
“If debt spirals, it can have serious effects on an individual’s mental wellbeing, their relationships and can lead to them resorting to crime.
“Better awareness of the harm that gambling can cause is crucial if we are to protect people and prevent problems from escalating, which is why I welcome this Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership campaign focused on helping people to spot the warning signs and encouraging them to seek help and support.”
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner’s Emily Spurrell
The campaign, which will be adapted to suit major sporting events over the next year, is supported by Beacon Counselling Trust.
A spokesperson for the organisation said: ‘Beacon Counselling Trust applaud the MVRP for taking a public health approach to the issue of gambling. We are pleased to be a partner in this innovative campaign aimed at supporting our communities in-particularly from an early intervention perspective. Beacon Counselling Trust is part of the National Gambling Support Network and offer FREE, confidential, specialist support to anyone who may be at risk of, or experiencing, gambling related harms.’