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Calls for better workplace support for staff impacted by gambling 

THURSDAY 6 JUNE 2024, LONDON, UK - More employers should be opening up safe spaces for their staff to disclose problems around gambling, according to the gambling support charity GamCare.   

Recent YouGov research of over 5,000 adults* reveals that just one in 10 (9%) of people said that their workplace had support policies for people impacted by gambling.  Comparatively, nearly half (47%) said there were policies in place to support with issues around mental health, 17% said similarly for policies for alcohol misuse, and 15% for drug misuse.  

With up to 1.6 million people in the UK struggling with the activity according to Public Health England, the charity, which is part of the National Gambling Support Network, believes organisations could open up more avenues to help employees disclose gambling activities safely in the workplace, and direct them to services that can help if they need it.   

One in 10 (9%) people who called the National Gambling Helpline last year, which is operated by GamCare, cited difficulties in the workplace as one of the main impacts they faced as a result of the activity.  

The data captured from YouGov also points to a communication gap between those impacted and their bosses. Only three in 10 (28%) of those gambling at harmful levels say they would feel confident in telling their employer about the rate they were gambling at, compared to nearly six in 10 (57%) saying they could tell friends, and 42% for their family.  

Those who are impacted by someone else’s gambling feel similarly. Only one in three (35%) say they would feel confident telling their employer about the impact it was having on them, compared to half (49%) for family and three in five (60%) for friends.  

David Quinti, from Manchester, kept his gambling activities secret from everyone for almost ten years before he eventually opened up to his family. Shortly after he also informed his workplace, who were supportive, but thinks that having more avenues to disclose issues at work could have prevented gambling from taking over his life in the way it eventually did.  

“Gambling at work made me anxious, made me snappy and at one point I feared I would lose my job altogether due to my performance dropping. There were even times when I would head into the toilets, for up to 20 minutes, so that I could continue gambling” he says. “If there had been more support available through the workplace, I could have opened up about it sooner before reaching the lows that I did.  

“My boss was really supportive, but there was no place to disclose a problem with gambling or information about where I could get help, when you could easily have channels open for things like drink, drugs, and wider mental health issues.”  

Samantha Turton, Head of Remote Support Services at GamCare, says: "Gambling is often referred to as the ‘hidden’ addiction, where it’s often more difficult to spot the signs of an issue than drink or drugs. This is why it’s even more important to create channels where people can discuss issues that may come from it, and workplaces are a fantastic place where this can be done in a safe and supportive way. 

“Last year we saw steps for more GPs to ask questions from patients around gambling, which is an important step forward. We believe workplaces could be the next place to create more awareness about gambling and could be a win-win for organisations and staff, with people feeling more supported and engaged at work, and organisations benefitting from a happier, healthier workforce. In the most severe cases, it can even help prevent against gambling-related crime at work, which can protect both employees and their businesses.”  

Betknowmore UK provides a dedicated workplace training programme called WorkSafe. Katy Wilson, Operations and Business Development Lead at Betknowmore UK, comments: “Employers may not always know when there are issues with gambling occurring in their workplaces, but it’s really important there are avenues available to disclose it. Like with policies on other harms, the first step is often to create a safer gambling policy, and signal to staff that they can come forward with this in a safe and secure way.”  

Five steps that organisations can take to support more discussions about gambling harms include:  

  1. Implementing HR policies that highlight that there are open spaces to disclose issues with gambling, similar to internal policies on issues with drugs, alcohol and mental health issues.  
  2. Equipping line managers with the information they need to support any staff impacted, such as awareness of the National Gambling Helpline or their local support provider through the National Gambling Support Network.  
  3. Creating supportive networks internally and encouraging more internal learning opportunities that help reduce the stigma associated with gambling harm.  
  4. Carefully thinking about the impact that office competitions such as lotteries or ‘sweepstakes’ may have on their employees, particularly in periods where there is a heightened temptation to bet, such as the Grand National or the upcoming Euros.  
  5. Recognising that people don’t have to be gambling themselves to be experiencing harms from it; they could be affected by someone else’s gambling, and their support needs may be different.  

Anyone struggling with gambling harm is urged to call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133. You can speak with Advisers one-to-one over the phone or on live chat 24 hours a day, every day of the year.  

About GamCare    

Founded in 1997, GamCare is the largest provider of information, advice and support for anyone experiencing gambling harms in Great Britain, whether their own gambling or someone else’s.  

GamCare operates the National Gambling Helpline, a free, confidential service that people can call on 0808 8020 133, access via live web chat or directly message on Whatsapp, funded by GambleAware. Over 52,000 calls and online chats were made to the Helpline last year and Advisors are available 24/7, every day.  

The charity is also part of the National Gambling Support Network, funded by GambleAware, which is a group of organisations across Great Britain who provide free, confidential and personalised support for anyone who’s experiencing problems from gambling, as well as those affected by someone else’s gambling.  

About Betknowmore UK  

Betknowmore UK is part of the National Gambling Support Network (NGSN) and a leading provider of gambling support and training services. They provide award-winning services which embrace the insight and knowledge of ‘Experts by Experience’ combined with evidence-based approaches. At their core is the ‘lived experience’ of gambling dependency and recovery, from the Founder to the support team and the Management Board.