Gambling risk reduction charity GamCare has raised fears that vulnerable gamblers are hampered in their ability to obtain assistance due to privacy problems by releasing their ‘Lockdown Report’.
The study from GamCare tracks how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected individuals with gambling harms and their modifications in securing assistance and treatment.
As the ‘National Gambling Helpline’ provider (funded by GambleAware), GamCare noted that privacy concerns forced sufferers to alter how they interact with their frontline services.
The charity noted that through its 24/7 telephone service,’ discretionary considerations of living in close proximity to family and loved ones’ saw sufferers turn to their live chat function.
Since the beginning of March, tracking vulnerable interactions, GamCare reports that it has seen a rise in users visiting its regular chat rooms, in which Covid-related worries regarding finances and loneliness have been marked by sufferers as main anxieties.
In the meantime, frontline workers working on the National Helpline flagged heightened questions about ‘callers’ witnessing domestic violence.
Overall , the study emphasised that the number of people starting treatment during the March-to-August timeframe remained lower than in 2019 , despite GamCare treatment services remaining high.
In addition to the recent UKGC market update, GamCare publishes its lockdown report, in which the regulator reported that ‘gambling participation’ had decreased nationally, but 18-34 year olds were identified as ‘most engaged gamblers’-with the segment increasing’ time or money spent on gambling activities, plus using online gambling products they had not tried before.
Heading into the winter and autumn months of the United Kingdom, GamCare cited its public concerns about a YouGov study commissioned by GambleAware that detailed that about half (52 percent) of those who said they gambled cited ‘relieving boredom or anything to do’ as a reason for doing so.
Anna Hemmings, GamCare’s Chief Executive, said: “There is no doubt that the pandemic has impacted people’s help-seeking, particularly in the initial phase of the pandemic when our daily lives were immeasurably changed. Our service users are speaking to us about increasing anxiety, isolation and money worries.
“As we now look at further lockdowns across various areas, we need to be aware of the impact and risks for gamblers experiencing harm. We need to be more vocal about encouraging people to seek help despite the external pressures, and to remind people that we’re here to help as we did in the summer with our #ReadyToTalk campaign.
“There is no doubt that gamblers and their loved ones will continue to need support, perhaps increasingly so. GamCare is doing all it can to be flexible and tailor its services to meet those complex and changing needs during the pandemic and beyond. From the very first contact you have with us, we can make a difference – if you’re worried about your gambling or anyone else’s, talk to us now.”