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Two in Three People Experiencing Gambling Problems Keep Issue Hidden

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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.

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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.

The campaign has been developed in close collaboration with the gambling harms lived experienced community, and is supported by a range of expert and influential voices including ex-Love Islander Scott Thomas, who has previously experienced gambling harms.

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Scott Thomas, Entrepreneur and Presenter, said: “It’s an incredibly scary thing to first tell someone that you’ve got a gambling problem. Many people assume it’s just because you can’t handle your money, but it needs to be viewed as seriously as any other mental health condition. I was terrified when I first opened up about the problems I had been having but, once I did, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I no longer had to hide. I want the same to happen for anyone out there who feels like they might be struggling on their own.”

There is a vast range of resources available and anyone who is worried that gambling might be affecting themselves or someone they love are encouraged to use the self-assessment tool to get free and confidential support tailored to them and their specific needs.

Elissa Hubbard, who has lived experience of gambling harms, said: “Every day was full of anxiety – trying to keep my gambling a secret, whilst finding opportunities to do it more. People think you can ‘just stop’, but you can’t… it’s so easy to be dismissed, and I didn’t want anyone to think bad of me. Finding help changed everything. I discovered that by keeping quiet, it helps no one, and when you start to talk about it, people start to understand you.”

GambleAware has also created tools to help users calculate the time and money spent gambling, served with recommendations in line with the internationally proven Lower Risk Gambling Guidelines. These are expected to become available from early December as part of a soft launch on the GambleAware website.

Dr Ellie Cannon, medical expert and commentator, said: “Gambling harms – or the negative consequences of gambling – are a complex issue that goes far beyond just financial challenges. It can lead to poor mental health, physical health, and relationships break down. They way these issues manifest will vary from person to person, but being aware and recognising the early warning signs of spending increasing amounts of time, money and hiding your gambling can help get people to a better place, sooner.”

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Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew said: “Too often we see the devastating impacts of harmful gambling, and our white paper outlines a host of new measures we’re implementing to protect those most at risk. A key element of our plans is the introduction of a statutory levy on gambling companies to raise sufficient, sustainable and trusted funding for research, prevention and treatment of gambling related harm. Stigma is the biggest barrier preventing people from seeking help, and I welcome GambleAware’s vital campaign which is raising awareness of the issue and helping people get the support they need.”

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Compliance Updates

BHA Chief Executive Julie Harrington Statement Following Parliamentary Debate on Affordability Checks

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BHA Chief Executive Julie Harrington has issued the following statement after MPs debated the impact of affordability checks.

“Yesterday’s debate on the impact of affordability checks on British racing has shone a light on a hugely important issue for our sport.

“It was vital that MPs were given proper parliamentary time to thoroughly interrogate the Government’s proposals and we were encouraged by the high turnout for a Westminster Hall debate.

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“Many MPs made valuable contributions to the debate, and we are sure that Sports Minister Stuart Andrew will have listened with interest to the views expressed.

“From MPs of all parties and all sides of the debate, there was a clear recognition of the need for the Government to protect and support British racing when reviewing gambling legislation.

“If our sport is to remain a healthy industry, supporting jobs in the rural economy and remaining competitive with our international rivals, we hope that Government will heed this advice.

“We were encouraged by Minister Andrew ruling out the use of job titles and postcodes in the implementation of enhanced spending checks and confirming that these changes will at least be subject to a genuine pilot.

“We will continue to make the case into the heart of Government that the impact of these checks both on our industry and racing bettors needs to be carefully considered and look forward to further discussions on this important issue for British racing with the Gambling Commission and DCMS.”

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Compliance Updates

UK FCA Approves Department of Trust as Registered Account Information Services Provider

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First dedicated safer gambling platform given direct access to open banking infrastructure

Department of Trust (DOTrust. co. uk), the award-winning provider of financial risk assessments for safer gambling, has received official status from the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as a Registered Account Information Service Provider (RAISP) under the terms of the Payment Services Regulations 2017.

The registration makes Department of Trust the dedicated safer gambling AIS provider. With its new status, Department of Trust can now connect directly to dozens of United Kingdom banks and payment institutions to provide gambling operators with its low-friction and privacy-friendly model of enhanced financial vulnerability, source of funds and proof of income assessments.

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Additionally, it powers its consumer-facing BetBudget personal finance tool to independently assist consumers in keeping on top of their spend, controlling their data and tracking their overall gambling P&L.

This latest development, which has taken over a year to achieve, follows the provider’s recent launch of its DoTrust Complete platform with The Rank Group. The major brand is the first to use this bespoke, integrated suite of frictionless assessments that gives operators end-to-end risk evaluation of their players to spot and support potentially vulnerable customers from the moment of registration onwards.

“Becoming a RAISP is a major step forward not just for us, our customers and users, but also for the place of open banking in supporting safer gambling generally,” the founder and Chief Executive Officer for Department of Trust, Charles Cohen, said. “Financial risk assessments of gamblers are different to those in other sectors and demand a bespoke approach that is sensitive to the needs of consumers and operators alike. The industry needs providers able to deliver high-acceptance, low-friction and privacy-protecting financial assessments of players that are both accurate and proportionate throughout the player journey.

“Being registered as a RAISP is the gold standard of open banking and allows us to do that alongside our frictionless checks for lower-risk situations seamlessly and without being distracted from the task at hand. Having direct access to the banks means we can offer the highest level of service, innovate faster and ensure integrity throughout whilst providing the best value for money in the sector.

“In combination with our recently launched platform, DoTrust Complete, this development further reinforces our commitment to providing the tools required to ensure compliance in regulated markets around the world.”

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Compliance Updates

UK Affordability Checks Debate: Are They Meant to Remember the Face of Every Punter Who’s Placed a Bet?

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UK Parliament Gambling Affordability Checks Debate – comments from Felix Faulkner (pictured), Solicitor at Poppleston Allen

“There were many comments in the debate regarding whether these checks and the damage to the industry will drag the industry back to the pre-Gambling Act days when underground gambling was considerably more prominent.

“Whether that’s true or not, I can’t comment. However, I think it is fair to say that, currently, the proposed idea of enhanced affordability checks is a far way off the reality of implementation. Significant developments and detail are needed from the Gambling Commission as to exactly how this proposal will benefit both the industry and punters alike.

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“The biggest risk that these checks present to the industry is to horse racing and on-course betting. How can the government expect people at an on-course stand with 30 seconds until the race starts to do affordability checks? How can they be expected to remember who’s put a bet on which horse? Are they meant to remember the face of every punter ahead of every race? In practice, this would be physically impossible to work with and will ruin the customer experience.

“The current proposal tabled by the Gambling Commission and the government is going to be very difficult to implement and it will be interesting to see exactly how they propose to get around that difficulty.

“The impact this has would be significant – and significantly detrimental – to both punters and the racing industry and create a huge amount of friction for everyone. This approach is fundamentally contrary to the ‘frictionless light touch’ approach tabled by Tim Miller, Executive Director of Research and Policy at the Gambling Commission, just last week.

“I would imagine it would put punters off making bets and, at the moment, I struggle to feasibly see a way for it to be implemented smoothly. At the moment, it is difficult to imagine the benefit for punters or for on-course bookmakers.”

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