GamCare has cited the cost-of-living crisis as driving a sharp increase in demand for its services, prompting the launch of a new digital platform, MyGamCare.
The gambling harm treatment provider revealed that its helpline received the highest number of calls for any month in January 2023, with its advisors reporting that the cost-of-living crisis had been identified as a driver for gambling among many callers.
After 3,700 online chats and calls were made across the first month of the year, marking a 17% increase year-on-year from January 2022, the group has launched MyGamCare to meet increasing demand.
Anna Hemmings, GamCare CEO, remarked: “With almost four in five people who used our services last year citing issues with online gambling, we know that the nature of gambling has changed significantly over the last ten years and that more can be done to reach people when and where the harm is occurring.
“With the introduction of MyGamCare – along with our WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger capabilities – we hope to open the door for people to get help sooner and to reach out for support in a way that works for them.
“We know how difficult making that first step can be and how many people might not feel at a stage to talk about their gambling yet. It’s important that the options are there for people to start that journey in whichever way they are most comfortable.”
To further boost the reach of the platform, the helpline has been made available through WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to ensure greater ease of access.
GamCare revealed that younger groups have been a driving demographic behind the increased demand, stating that early helpline data suggests ‘it is more frequently people under 35 who are reaching through the respective platforms’.
The impact of gambling harm on young people, as well as the potential for the cost-of-living crisis to push people towards gambling, have been cited by GamCare and fellow treatment charity GambleAware, throughout the latter stages of the Gambling Act review.
For example, Zoë Osmond, GambleAware CEO, voiced her concerns back in December that the current economic pressures and winter World Cup hype would create a ‘perfect storm’ of gambling harm, as the group launched its latest ‘Bet Regret’ campaign.
Sharing her views on the launch of MyGamCare, Osmund said: “We’re pleased to see the launch of the new MyGamCare service and hope it will be a vital resource for those who need it. We know that gambling harms can affect anyone.
“This is why services such as MyGamCare are so important as they provide free, digital advice and information for anyone who is worried about gambling, or is experiencing harms from gambling.”