The founders of the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) argued in favour of experiences initiatives involving a more diverse range of players, going beyond those who have suffered related harm from gambling.
The chief executive and co-founder, Lee Willows, clarified that this strategy will make the process of designing new protections entirely inclusive by providing a clearer view of multiple gaming backgrounds in order to inform decisions.
Experience initiatives experts bring together groups of people with lived industry , product or issue experience, to have a say in developing public policy or safeguards. It has historically been seen among those who have experienced gambling related harm for gambling.
For example, the Gambling Commission has established an interim expert by community of experiences to provide guidance, facts and suggestions to help guide decision-making and increase standards.
This group has already provided insight into elements such as stake limits, marketing and responsible game design, with plans by the regulator to create a permanent advisory body.
Willows said: “It is pleasing to see more contributions made from people with direct experience of the tragic harm that gambling can cause some individuals, such as the YGAM founders.
“Lived experience, or what the Commission is terming ‘experts by experience’ is a really important part of the conversation.”
“Personally, as someone who lost everything to a gambling addiction, I am always grateful for the opportunity to contribute my insight and experiences as such a level of inclusion would have been unheard of five years ago.”
He argued, however, that a broader base was required to exploit the personal experience , expertise and understanding of individuals in guiding change. Willows explained that the experience lived must include “a chorus of different voices” representing the broader spectrum of players, rather than just those who had experienced gambling distortion.
“Surely it’s important to understand how and why the vast majority of people who gamble can do so without experiencing a problem, as well as the reasons why some will develop significant and profound gambling related problems?
“If we accept the vast majority of people gamble within their means and with no adverse consequences, then understanding why this happens is just as useful as understanding why people like I cannot,” he said. “By taking this much broader approach it would be amazing if different people within the debate can find some common themes to focus on and move forward in a progressive and non-judgemental way.”
Another founder of YGAM, Anne Evans, added that attempts to tackle the harms associated with gambling were going in the right direction, with “some extremely talented people” trying to make a difference.
“There will always be a wide spectrum of opinions on what needs to be done to reduce gambling harms and all these views should be welcomed,” she said. “There is no perfect solution. We need a diverse spread of perspectives to engage in the debate. We must respect all the different views and always be kind.”