Important reflections during Responsible Gambling Week (7-13 November 2019)
This week, we have featured in local and national newspapers after successfully recovering £120,000 for a vulnerable customer
who had suffered significant losses as a result of gambling with an operator that failed to meet its social responsibility obligations.
The Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group has also released its interim report, which made numerous recommendations for protecting vulnerable customers. This included calling for treatment of gambling addiction to be offered under the NHS, banning the use of credit cards to gamble online, imposing a duty of care upon gambling operators, and urgently introducing new gambling legislation that focuses on harm prevention.
Now, during Responsible Gambling Week (RGW), we reflect on some key issues in the industry with a view to supporting the RGW campaign, which aims to create a conversation with customers, staff and the wider public about gambling responsibly, driving awareness of responsible gambling and sources of support to help those with a gambling problem. Social responsibility is a problem in the industry and so it is important that action is taken to protect vulnerable people and raise awareness.
What is Responsible Gambling?
According to Responsible Gambling UK, responsible gambling means being able to gamble “without putting yourself or others at risk of harm”. They add: “part of gambling more safely and responsibly is understanding the odds of the game you are
playing, what the rules are, and accepting that losing is just as much a part of gambling as winning”.
The Gambling Commission’s LCCP
In August 2019, the Gambling Commission published changes to its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), which took effect on 31 October 2019.
The LCCP sets out the requirements that gambling firms must meet in order to hold an operating licence and personal licence. The changes are reflective of the Gambling Commission’s push to provide adequate protection for consumers and seek to ensure that the licensing framework in this area is compliant with UK advertising codes, marketing requirements, and consumer rights law.
Amongst other things, some of the key changes to the LCCP were to raise standards for alternative dispute resolution (ADR), strengthen requirements on how licensees identify and interact with customers who may be at risk of or experiencing gambling harms, and improve the transparency of funding for research, prevention and treatment.
The purpose of these changes is to help make gambling fairer and safer for consumers and will give the Gambling Commission more power to take enforcement action if gambling firms fail to meet their responsibilities. However, there is still a way to go and it is hoped that the Parliamentary Report referred to above will trigger more urgent action from not only the Gambling Commission and gambling operators, but also the NHS and UK Government.
Gambling and Mental Health
There are various serious mental health issues which may result in consumers developing gambling problems and falling outside the scope of what is considered ‘responsible gambling’. Gambling can sometimes allow you to experience a ‘high’ of anticipating a ‘big win’, especially where large amounts of money are involved. However, if money is lost, that ‘high’ can very quickly turn into a serious ‘low’. The impact of these highs and lows on your mental health can be significant, with ‘lows’
often leading to feelings of despair. In turn, this can often increase the desire to gamble again quickly, in order to try and get back to the ‘high’. As a result, many people fall into a vicious circle of gambling and can end up becoming addicted to the activity.
GamCare reports that problem gamblers are more likely than others to suffer from low self-esteem, develop stress-related disorders, to become anxious, have poor sleep and appetite, to develop a substance misuse problem and to suffer from
depression. Recent research has also shown a strong link between gambling problems and suicidal thoughts or feelings.
If you feel or someone you know may not be gambling responsibly or be fully in control, it is important help is sought from a medical professional. If you are unsure as to how gambling is affecting you at this stage, GamCare offers a helpful self
assessment tool, which may help.
There are a number of sources of help for problem gambling, if you feel that gambling may be causing you to spend beyond your means, fall into debt, and/or is affecting your mental health. Some key organisations are as follows:
- GamCare – an independent charity which provides information, advice and support for anyone affected by problem
gambling across England, Scotland and Wales.
- GamStop – the UK’s gambling self-exclusion scheme.
- BigDeal – GamCare’s website for young people.
- StepChange Debt Charity – debt counselling and advice for managing debt.
- National Debtline – advice for managing debt.
resources on gambling
- Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon – local support groups to help problem gamblers with recovery from addiction, plus support groups for friends and family.
The RGW website also has an extensive list of support sources for those in need, which we would strongly recommend that anyone with a potential gambling problem considers.
How can Ellis Jones help?
Ellis Jones has a specialist betting disputes team to assist anyone who feels they have been treated unfairly by gambling firms and lost money as a result. We have experience of dealing with and resolving matters in a number of different ways and have been successful in doing so. Please visit our page here or call Paul Kanolik or Henrietta Dunkley on 01202 525333, or send us an email to discuss your case and how we may be able to assist you in recovering your losses.