Anna Hemmings: Public feel operators ‘are not doing their part’

GamCare CEO Anna Hemmings has argued that the general public do not feel that the betting and gaming firms ‘are doing their part’ as the UK government moves forward with its review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Publishing a statement to mark Safer Gambling Week 2021, Hemmings detailed that in collaboration with YouGov the charity surveyed 1,510 people who gamble at least once a year, asking the participants on what they do to gamble safely.

The results revealed that 39% of those surveyed said that they maintained spending limits, 23% said they avoid betting on fixed-odds machines and 52% stated that they would only gamble on specific sports or events, with Hemmings nothing that ‘for people that we’re in touch with through our services, safer will often mean not at all’.

However, the study also found that 28% of the respondents from the survey agreed with the statement that ‘gambling businesses are doing enough to ensure customers play safely’, and the charity detailed that it is hopeful that the review of the 2005 Gambling Act ‘brings about the changes that people want to see’.

“There is still work to be done to ensure GamCare is known as a first port of call. If you think someone you know needs support, please get in touch,” Hemmings remarked. “We urge anyone who is struggling with gambling to contact us, whether it’s their own or someone else’s gambling.”

Additionally, the CEO also stated her view that the charity still has work to do with regards to raising awareness about its operations, although acknowledging the impact of the group’s services.

She explained her view that only a small number of people affected by gambling related harm in Great Britain receive support, with data from the National Gambling Treatment Service (NGTS) suggesting that ‘around 3%’ of people in this group accessed support and treatment in 2019/20.

However, the charity was reached out to more people ‘than ever before’ in 2020, with the group experiencing a 9% increase in calls and chats whilst its practitioners delivered 14% more treatment sessions and assessments to reach 55,000 – the organisation has also cited research from King’s College London supporting the effectiveness of its treatment programmes.

“What is important during weeks like this that we shine a light on gambling as a topic, the potential harms people can experience and the help and support that is available,” Hemmings detailed.

“We want people to reach out to us earlier – we know many don’t recognise they have a problem, for others stigma prevents them reaching out – regardless of how their gambling impacts their quality of life.”

Lastly, Hemmings also promoted the GamCare’s TalkBanStop initiative in cooperation with Gamban and GAMSTOP, encouraging people facing difficulties with gambling to contact the National Gambling Helpline.

While acknowledging that the tools on offer via the initiative ‘are not a panacea’, Hemmings maintained that the solutions offer a number of key benefits, including a belt and braces approach to preventing access to online gambling, whilst also boosting confidence to bring about ‘peace of mind’.

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