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Gambling companies’ role in gambling addiction

Posted by Martin Preston
on 11 Oct 2022

Enjoyed responsibly, gambling is just a bit of harmless fun, but for many it can be the cause of financial problems, job loss, family difficulties, criminality and even suicide. The gambling scene has changed dramatically since the first legalised betting shops in the sixties when most gambling took place on slips of paper behind closed doors. Today, it’s a multi-billion-pound industry with over 40% of gambling taking place on mobile phones and online casino games dominating the sector. Sadly, an estimated 430,000 people suffer from compulsive gambling in the UK (1). 

But, who’s to blame? Is it simply down to more widespread accessibility, or perhaps it’s the fact that lax regulations that have been poorly implemented. Two thirds of British adults believe betting companies aren’t taking gambling seriously enough and that they’re failing to protect vulnerable people. Delamere is a purpose-built retreat that helps people overcome gambling problems through residential rehabilitation. Here, we’ll discuss the gambling companies’ role in gambling addiction and how can we prevent more casualties. 

Gambling companies fail to meet legislation 

Set up in 2005, The Gambling Act had three main objectives: to prevent gambling from supporting crime; to ensure gambling is fair and open; and to protect children and vulnerable people from being harmed by gambling. However, a recent review of The Gambling Act was ordered to ensure it’s still relevant in light of digital developments in the last two decades. In Tony Blair’s reign mobile phones didn’t have half of the capabilities they do now. They weren’t used to connect to the internet, which is currently where the majority of transactions take place. 

The review will also address the fact that these original objectives are not being met. Earlier this year, the Entain Group, which runs 13 gambling websites including Ladbrokes, Coral and Foxy Bingo, were ordered to pay £17million in costs for breaching social responsibility and anti-money laundering rules. Compulsive gambling continues to be a growing problem in the UK with devastating consequences for families, yet the Gambling Commission is still failing to “adequately protect consumers” by ensuring gambling companies comply (2). 

Compulsive gambling is linked to crime

Gambling is an expensive past time and very few people can actually afford it. With the promise of high rewards, gambling fuels criminal activity with compulsive gamblers turning to financial crime to support their habit. As well as theft and fraud, the relentless pursuit of money also leads to public crimes such as street robbery. Significant evidence suggests domestic abuse and child neglect are also linked to pathological gambling (3). 

Despite the fact that a high proportion of prison inmates have a gambling addiction, there is very little treatment and support available to sufferers. Lord Goldsmith QC, who chairs the Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms, has said gambling companies should pay crime victims compensation because, while drug or alcohol addiction are considered a mitigating circumstance during sentencing for crimes, gambling addiction is not. 

Gambling companies’ use of tracking technology

Gambling companies spend an estimated £1.5billion per year on advertising. As with any other form of targeted online marketing, betting brands receive all kinds of data about their customers’ shopping, browsing and spending habits. This allows them to effectively follow their every move and provide temptation in strategic places – a dangerous tactic for a person at-risk of addiction. 

While gambling companies have innocently protested their ad tracking is in fact designed to keep player’s safe and limit abuse, the UK’s data watchdog has recently launched an enquiry into claims betting firms are targeting problem players and willing them to spend more. 

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The effect of gambling advertising on children

Our children are still routinely exposed to promotional material that normalises betting on everything from sport to horse racing. Even though gambling adverts aren’t placed in media aimed at children and young people, their opportunities to view marketing by gambling companies is high, as is their brand recall. Evidence even suggests children of primary school age have brand loyalty towards certain gambling companies who feature celebrities, characters and catchy songs.

The problem is so great that the UK is banning the use of sports’ celebrities in gambling advertising in the run up to the World Cup in Qatar to help protect under-18s and other vulnerable groups. Being exposed to any form of addiction at an early age, or living in a household with a gambling addict, can lead to destructive and unhealthy compulsive behaviours later in life. 

NHS supports ‘addiction tax’ on gambling companies

The Guardian reports that 60% of the gambling industry’s profits come from 5% of customers who either have a gambling addiction or are at risk. According to Public Health England, suicide rates directly linked to gambling stand at 409 per year. The PHE found that one gambling firm allowed an NHS worker who was earning £1,400 per month to set a gambling deposit cap at £1,300 per month: the majority of their income. 

The impact of gambling on people’s health has become so out of control that senior officials in the NHS are calling for a new ‘addiction levy’ on the gambling industry. Taxing gambling companies more heavily would help to fund gambling addiction treatment which is currently falling drastically short. Some gambling companies do give voluntarily to approved service providers, but these are not being evenly distributed. 

Not-for-profit campaign, Clean Up Gambling, supports a mandatory levy on gambling companies and also calls to introduce tighter limits on stake, speed and deposit limits, as well as an end to gambling advertising, sponsorship and promotion. 

There has been widespread research into gambling companies essentially ‘marking their own homework’ when it comes to adhering to legislation and providing treatment for gambling addiction. Research into problem gambling is often funded by the gambling industry, rather that independent public bodies. 

We know that gambling disorder is a mental health problem linked with anxiety and mood disorders, substance abuse and compulsive behaviour problems. With the advent of more outlets for gambling online, gambling addiction is becoming more widespread, especially among women. By introducing a compulsory 1% levy, independent research could be funded which would get vulnerable groups the help they desperately need. 

Until then, we are fortunate enough to have private treatment services headed by international experts in addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with gambling addiction, it’s important you access professional help. 

Worried about gambling addiction? Speak to the team at Delamere

How can Delamere help with gambling addiction? 

Delamere is a purpose-built wellness retreat set in unique forest surroundings in the heart of Cheshire. Our holistic therapists help people overcome gambling addiction and other addictive behaviours through a range of evidence-based therapies. If your compulsive gambling addiction has caused you to turn to drink or drugs, we can begin your residential stay with a medically supervised clinical detox. 

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Every guest has their own ensuite room away from the temptations of gambling in which to rest and recuperate. You will be assigned a focal therapist and take part in one-to-one counselling sessions and group therapy to help understand the root cause of your gambling addiction. Treatments range from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to somatic healing techniques, such as breathwork and meditation. 

We believe in a holistic approach to treatment and will look at all aspects of your life to find the coping mechanisms that work for you mentally, physically and emotionally. Unlike other rehabilitation programmes, we have a unique three-stage approach which allows you to stop the urge to gamble, start to resolve the reasons behind your issues and grow beyond addiction for life. 

If you’re struggling with gambling addiction, call us confidentially to speak to a member of the team today. Contact Delamere

About the author: Martin Preston

Martin created Delamere in order to provide exemplary care in first class facilities. Find out more about Martin on our team page.

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