GamCare has published a report looking at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people who may suffer from gambling-related problems.
GamCare, the UK’s leading provider for problem gambling support, has published its “Lockdown Report” and expressed concerns that vulnerable gamblers are hindered in their ability to get help due to privacy issues.
GamCare’s “Lockdown Report”
GamCare’s “Lockdown Report” monitors how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted people experiencing gambling-related harms and the changes when it comes to securing support and treatment.
As GamCare operates the National Gambling Helpline, the organisation observed that privacy issues caused people who suffer from gambling-related problems to change how they interact with the services available to them.
GamCare highlighted that “discretionary factors of living in close proximity of family and loved ones” saw sufferers shift to using its live chat function instead of the 24/7 telephone service.
The charity, which has been monitoring interactions with vulnerable people since the beginning of March, said that it has seen an increase in the number of users accessing its daily chatrooms. GamCare noted that in these chatrooms, coronavirus-related concerns surrounding finances and isolation have been marked as key anxieties by people.
Anna Hemmings, Chief Executive of GamCare, 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.”
The report also highlighted that while GamCare’s treatment service still received a high level of use, the number of people beginning treatment between March and August remained lower than in 2019.
Concerns over future lockdowns
GamCare published its report alongside a market update from the UK Gambling Commission, which saw the regulatory body reveal that gambling participation dropped across the country. However, 18-34 year-olds were highlighted as the “most-engaged” gamblers.
With the winter and autumn months looming, the charity raised concerns after a YouGov study commissioned by GambleAware revealed that 52% of those who gambled said they did so out of boredom.
Hemmings added: “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.”