SBC News Problem gambling debate can be 'overly complicated'
Dirk Hansen

Problem gambling debate can be ‘overly complicated’

Dirk Hansen
Dirk Hansen

Dirk Hansen, CEO of charity GamCare, has said that debate around problem gambling can be ‘overly complicated’. In an interview in February’s Betting Business interactive, Hansen said that the problem gambling charity treads carefully on the issue.

When asked if he agreed with the contention that a rational debate on problem gambling is increasingly rare. Is this your experience, Hansen replied: “Well, I don’t think that the debate is irrational, but yes, it can sometimes be overly complicated.

“At GamCare we are often asked to comment on, or take a position about gambling and gambling products, or social impact related to gambling. I think that we have a responsibility to enter the debates as best as we can, but in our work with individuals, we know that the problem behaviours and the outcomes of these problems are often more complex than not, and cannot be summed up by a focus on any particular aspect of gambling.

“But, we also don’t subscribe to a laissez-faire approach, and we do support sensible and appropriate consumer protections that offer clear information about the risks of gambling in general, as well as opportunities to opt out easily, and how to get specialist help.”

In 2013/2014 GamCare managed to increase the number of calls from problem gamblers it handled by 34 per cent, something that Hansen attributed to the introduction of a Freephone number and the integration of its HelpLine and NetLine. “Our specialist advisers are now able to take a telephone call or an online chat call delivered by the same system. This has helped us plan better and ensure that we have enough staff available when there are surges in demand.”

When asked if the growth in numbers that GamCare is dealing equates to a growth in the number of problem gamblers, Hansen explained: “That is a difficult question to answer. Our general assumption is that the increase in calls to the HelpLine is due in large part to the recent promotional campaigns that highlight Gambleaware and the National Gambling Helpline, but also the increase in public awareness regarding gambling and possible problems related to gambling. Whether or not there are more problem gamblers is harder to make assumptions about, but so far the research worldwide indicates that the rates of problem gambling have stayed relatively stable.”

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