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GambleAware Calls for Improvements in UK Problem Gambling Treatment

by Glenn Baird - May 19, 2020

GambleAware has called for an increase in the help that is currently available for problem gamblers in the UK. The request was made after it was discovered that nearly half the players in the UK considered problem gamblers have refused supports.

12,161 adults were surveyed between 24 September and 13 October 2019, with the result published in a report titled the Treatment Needs and Gap Analysis. The report has been conducted by a group of researchers including the National Centre for Social Research.

The researchers used the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) to decide if someone was a low, moderate or high-risk gambler. The report revealed that 13% of those surveyed were considered at least low-risk gamblers, with 3% scoring 8 or more on the scale, which would identify them as problem gamblers.

This number when compared with current UK population figures suggests the 2.7% of the population can be considered problem gamblers.

Roughly 17% of those considered low-risk gamblers or higher claim to have accessed mental health services, and support from friends or family in the past 12 months. It would appear that the severity of the gambling problem that the player had would determine how likely they were to seek treatment, with 3% considered low risk seeking help, whilst 54% of high risk gamblers have done so.

Only 17% of those considered problem gamblers believed that their gambling was harmful, that their bet we not substantial and as a result they did believe they needed to seek help.

27% of problem gamblers did not seek any help because they were worried about how it would look and what judgements people would make about them. Other reasons such as ill-health and a lack of knowledge about gambling addiction were given for people not seeking help.

GambleAware also stated people from a poor background were not being properly supported, with 17% of these gamblers likely to report that nothing would motivate them to seek support.

The report also highlighted the impact that problem gambling can have on family and friends, with 7% of problem gamblers stating that their gambling affected others at home and within their social groups.

GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches said: “This research has shown that there is a clear need to further strengthen and improve the existing treatment and support on offer, to develop routes into treatment and to reduce barriers to accessing help.

“Services have to be flexible to meet the needs of individuals and easy to access. This research shows how the need for support and the way it is accessed may vary according to gender and demographic factors such as ethnic group, location or whether a person has additional health needs.”

Because of this GambleAware has put forward a number of recommended improvements, including improved educational programmes, plus attempts to reduce the stigma that exists around gambling.

Marc Etches went on to say: “Meeting the needs highlighted in this report will require partnerships between the statutory and voluntary sectors, both those services specific to gambling treatment and other health and support provisions.

“Working with those with lived experiences is essential in designing and promoting access to services, as well as helping to prevent relapse. It is important to engage community institutions including faith groups, to help make more people aware of the options available to them and ensure no one feels excluded from services.”

Dr Sokratis Dinos, research director at the National Centre for Social Research, added: “A recurrent theme across this programme of studies was related to a lack of awareness of, or hesitation to accept, that gambling behaviour may be harmful. Gambling harms can have a negative impact on the perception of oneself often owing to the associated ‘stigma’.

“Continuing to develop education programmes and public messaging about the way gambling disorder is perceived, and the development of peer-based, as well as tailored treatment and support services for groups less likely to access those provisions would help to address this and, in turn, contribute towards reducing barriers to seeking treatment and support.”

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland sits to the north-west of mainland Europe. The United Kingdom shares a border with The Republic of Ireland and has coasts on the Atlantic Ocean, Celtic Sea, North Sea, Irish Sea and English Channel. The population of the UK is approaching the 67.6 million mark leading to a fairly densely populated land mass. The gambling sector in the United Kingdom is entirely regulated and licensed by the UKGC – the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. Should players resident In the UK wish to gamble with foreign based operators there is no history of this being treated as a criminal offence, but high levels of protection exist for UK residents playing with UK licensed operators.


The above information is what we believe to be the the legal status of online gambling, however information on this topic is limited and hard to find. We accept no liability for any errors or ommissions. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure that they know the legality of online gambling in their country before engaging with any online gambling service.