As Safer Gambling Week comes to a close, Dr Jane Rigbye, Chief Executive of YGAM, reflected on the importance of the week-long initiative’s message.
A chartered psychologist and career healthcare professional, Rigbye argued in a post on YGAM’s website that the ‘national level’ of awareness raising on gambling harm during Safer Gambling Week is ‘vitally important’.
Of key importance to Rigbye, the charity’s Chief Executive outlined that the gambling sector could and should leverage ‘the expertise, insight, and experience’ of the third sector’.
“Lived experience is at the heart of our training content for operators,” she explained. “We often find that our training is the first-time delegates have ever listened to someone’s very personal experiences with gambling harms.
“It is powerful and impactful. Where it is being utilised appropriately, lived experience is making a positive contribution to the improvements being made across the sector.”
Additionally, Rigbye also emphasised the importance of collaboration and information sharing – something which has been promoted heavily by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), GambleAware and former Gambling Minister, Chris Philp.
She emphasised that the UK is ‘fortunate’ to have a multitude of charities and organisations with a focus on gambling harm – many of which are influenced by lived experience.
YGAM itself has been ‘listening and learning’ from other harm prevention sector organisations, informing its educational programmes for teachers, youth workers, health professionals, parents, mental health specialists, community leaders and university staff.
“I’m proud of the work YGAM is doing this week and every other week. I’m also proud of the contribution that YGAM makes to this sector,” Rigbye continued.
“We’re a small piece of a much larger jigsaw. More needs to be done to reduce gambling harms and a collaborative approach is the most efficient way to achieve this.
“This includes commitments from Government, regulators, operators, charities, trade bodies, academics, and all those working tirelessly to prevent gambling harms. Alone we can do a little; together we can do so much.”
Rigbye’s comments on the ‘vitally important’ messaging of Safer Gambling Week comes amid a war of words on the topic in The House parliamentary magazine – published on the Politics Home site.
At the start of the week, Gambling With Lives (GWL) Strategy Director Will Prochaska argued that the seven-day initiative serves to shift the blame for problem gambling from operators to customers.
Prochaska stated that Safer Gambling Week functions to hide the damaging nature of products “which are designed to be addictive and aggressively promoted as safe”.
In response, Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) Chief Executive Michael Dugher wrote his own piece in The House, stating that ‘even if you don’t like betting, how can anyone be against safer gambling?’
When Rigbye’s comments are factored in, it seems that the jury is still out on the effectiveness of Safer Gambling Week, but that a wider desire for continued and enhanced information sharing remains.