GamCare has urged UK licensed operators to form “better referral pathways between sectors” to provide enhanced support for those experiencing gambling-related harms.
The advice forms part of GamCare’s second workshop, examining ways to tackle and minimise gambling-related debt – deemed as a principal concern of the treatment support charity.
Data from the National Gambling Treatment Service (NGTS) cites that 6-in-10 people accessing gambling treatment had debts due to gambling, with “2% insolvent – either bankrupt or in an Individual voluntary arrangement (IVA).”
Amid a backdrop of British consumers facing acute financial pressures, GamCare states that it is “imperative for the debt advice, gambling support sectors and consumer credit firms to offer a range of solutions to support clients is greater than ever.”
Addressing critical issues, GamCare continues to work with debt-relief and consumer advice organisation StepChange, who together gathered over 60 institutions to advise on its workshop and industry recommendations.
Taking on advise from Bristol University, Lloyds Banking Group, Citizens Advice, PayPlan and StepChange – GamCare has urged gambling leadership to “build close partnerships with organisations offering regulated and free debt advice.”
Support offered by operators “should build reciprocal referral pathways so that debt and gambling could be addressed simultaneously.”
Furthermore, customer referrals should move beyond “simple signposting” (providing the phone number or website address) to engage the customer directly with treatment practitioners such as PayPlan who will provide expert support on debt matters.
Emma Gibbons, Vulnerable Client Lead at PayPlan, explained: “As part of our partnership, we have a specialist advice team in place who work closely with GamCare, ensuring a “tell us once”, confidential and tailored approach to client’s needs.
“We’ve ensured that all of our operational staff have received GamCare’s training, to understand the indicators and barriers clients tackling gambling-related financial harm often face.”
In addition, feedback from lived experience detailed that problem gamblers often report that they unsuccessfully tried dealing with their debts whilst still gambling.
The consequence will require customer support teams to better identify debt risks and gambling harms.
Lived experience-driven feedback noted that operators should seek to normalise conversations about gambling by routinely asking clients about gambling spend when doing the income and expenditure form.
As such, GamCare has expanded its Action on Gambling Harm” programme to provide staff training on identifying debts and financial risks with Citizens Advice providing a direct referral pathway into GamCare’s treatment service.
“By directly referring people to GamCare we can quickly get them the right support they need to move forward with their problems,” commented Katie Fry, Project Development Manager at Citizens Advice:
“Following our series of workshops, we have developed a good understanding of the best practices to tackle gambling-related debts, and the changes that need to be made across sectors to support those affected. We look forward to working in partnership with colleagues across the debt advice, credit, and gambling support sectors to bring our recommendations into action.”