SBC News GambleAware: West Midlands at 25% higher risk of problem gambling than rest of UK

GambleAware: West Midlands at 25% higher risk of problem gambling than rest of UK

GambleAware’s latest research into problematic gambling behaviours found that the West Midlands is the region most exposed to gambling harms. 

The safer gambling body’s report shows that “as 168,000 adults in the West Midlands are experiencing ‘problem gambling” – indexed at a total of 3.9% of the local population which is 25% higher than the national average. 

The data comes as part of GambleAware’s latest campaign to reduce gambling stigma by encouraging public discourse and reducing feelings of shame and embarrassment that could prevent people from seeking support. 

According to the safer gambling charity, 75% of those who experience problem gambling do not feel comfortable enough to share with their family and friends. Furthermore, feedback details that  three in five (61%) often decide to not engage with those experiencing gambling harms due to stigma. 

Dr Joanne Lloyd, Associate Professor and gambling harms expert, University of Wolverhampton, commented: “Stigma is a massive issue in relation to gambling harms as it is one of the biggest barriers to people seeking treatment. Understanding stigma in relation to gambling harms is not as advanced as some other conditions – so we still have a lot to learn from the research that is currently underway. Most importantly, there’s no shame in asking for help, it’s one of the best steps you can take if you are suffering.”

The latest campaign from GambleAware placed a billboard at St Martins Square co-produced by people who have experienced gambling harm, with the main message saying “Gambling clouded everything I did” and additional information included about local support services. 

Andrew Rhodes, Chief Executive Officer of the UK Gambling Commission, backed  the initiative by saying: “It’s wonderful to witness the ongoing progress of the GambleAware stigma campaign, along with the unveiling of the new billboard in central Birmingham.

“Acknowledging the courage it takes to initiate conversations about gambling, any efforts to dismantle barriers to addressing gambling harms are truly appreciated.”

Zoë Osmond, Chief Executive of GambleAware, said: “This is why our stigma campaign is working to encourage people to open up about their experiences of gambling and seek the free help and support that is available by searching Gambleaware. It is vital that people impacted, in the West Midlands and across Great Britain, are aware of the wide range of support services available, and that they feel safe to come forward.”

Stuart Andrew, Minister for Gambling, concluded: “Stigma around gambling is one of the main barriers in the way of people seeking help. This research shows the benefits of opening up and the importance of telling people if you are struggling.

“We are determined to protect those most at risk of gambling harm, in the West Midlands and across Great Britain, and are implementing the measures included in our gambling white paper at pace.

“As part of this, we recently introduced stake limits for online slot games and will soon be outlining our plans for a levy on gambling companies to go towards research to better understand gambling harms.”

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