Earlier this year RecoverMe officially debuted, with the mobile health app, that centres around scientifically-backed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, aiming to empower individuals to manage gambling addiction from their pocket. 

RecoverMe, developed by three junior doctors, Minal Jain, Tejus Patel and Adil Nayeem, gives support for problem gamblers and aims to encourage them to seek help by providing a discrete option for support, with an aim to prevent gambling related harm nationwide.

Its bespoke design, structure and features have been developed in consultation with psychiatrists, psychologists and those currently struggling with gambling addiction in order to ensure the platform is as effective as possible.

Speaking amid the app’s first Safer Gambling Week in operation, Jain explained just why campaign’s such as SGW are important for the industry: “At RecoverMe, we view Safer Gambling Week as an opportunity to shed light on the importance of gambling in a safe manner,” she says. 

“It is a week to consider how we as organisations within this industry and as a society, can support an initiative that increases the awareness of problematic gambling behaviours. The week brings together a diverse range of stakeholders who are working toward achieving a reduction in gambling-related harm. 

“During the week discussions are had to identify how best to pools resources together to increase awareness about gambling addiction and the severity of it. This week is an opportunity to educate, to implement harm prevention strategies and consider how best to support these individuals with management tools available. 

“…educating starts not only with the individual but organisations, society and healthcare workers”

“We believe it is a great starting point and an opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and also aim to do better in the year to come. Therefore, it is not just a week. The safer gambling movement should be extended on throughout the year and be reflected in decision making by operators, regulators, and service providers. We want to ensure that we support those suffering in the best way possible and also protect those that are vulnerable.”

As the campaign, which began in 2017 to unite all sectors of the gambling industry, enters its final day in 2020, Jain changes tack to examine just why education is key as a preventative measure, as well as if players need to be made more aware of support services to ensure that they fully understand the associated risks: “Gambling addiction is considered to be a hidden addiction and therefore, educating starts not only with the individual but organisations, society and healthcare workers,” Jain explains. 

“This is essential to be able to prevent gambling addiction or at least reduce the severity of it. Player education is valuable but there are several other measures we can also consider to prevent a gambling addiction. These include bettering our understanding of this addiction through continuous research, controlling the exposure to gambling in the younger population, and stringent measures to protect vulnerable players. 

“Individuals can gamble socially but for those who develop a gambling addiction, we must ensure that they are aware of the support services that are available to them. Additionally, they should know how to access these support services. Collaboration within service provision is key as it allows us to direct individuals to the most appropriate form of help for them. 

Gambling operators should continue their commitment to protect more vulnerable players”

“That is why at RecoverMe we are integrating a collaborative approach to be able to facilitate this. We believe that through collaboration, individuals can become more aware of these support services. 

“We also hope to break down the barriers to treatment, and hopefully increase the percentage of individuals seeking help, as recent statistics suggest only three per cent are. Tools like RecoverMe are accessible, offer a discrete form of treatment and can also signpost individuals other support if necessary.” 

Before continuing on the same theme to look at what more the industry can do to ensure that player protection is maintained at the highest possible standard throughout the whole year, and not just for RGW: “Gambling operators should continue their commitment to protect more vulnerable players through measures such as easy self-exclusion, limits to the amount of money deposited and time spent gambling, throughout the year,” Jain continues.

“In situations where stringent measures are not in place, the Gambling Commission can investigate further and act accordingly. Incorporation of affordability checks is necessary going forward to protect those who are losing more than they can afford and finding themselves in difficult situations. This is particularly important given the current circumstances. 

“During COVID-19, many may feel like they have more time to spend gambling or be engaging with problematic gambling due to difficulties with their financial situations. 

“Banks stopping the use of credit cards was a step in the right direction as this ensured a further physical barrier was put into place to protect vulnerable individuals. Moreover, consideration of exposure to gambling adverts for vulnerable individuals, for example, within a sporting setting, needs to be evaluated further.”

“The current situation has inflicted additional stressors on individuals’ lives”

Adding: “Gambling operators have recently pledged £100m over the next few years to be directed towards education, prevention and treatment. We hope to see this funding spread across these three areas to reduce gambling-related harm throughout the UK. 

“Online operators can potentially utilise their tools to identify those who engage with risky behaviours of play and then consider how best to support them. If operators are proactive and aspire to support those that are suffering from gambling-related harm, they can signpost and support the various programmes and interventions available. As a result, we should see more individuals in treatment.”

To conclude, Jain touches upon the inescapable conversational trend of 2020, that of COVID-19, to look at if the context for social responsibility changed throughout the pandemic: “The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented times. The current situation has inflicted additional stressors on individuals’ lives such as financial stress, unemployment and lack of interaction between loved ones,” Jain ends.

“Acknowledging this change in circumstances is critical. The most recent research has shown that individuals are likely to gamble more during these difficult times. This may be attributed to the ease of access to online gambling coupled with the current circumstances. 

“Subsequently, this has pushed us as educators, and treatment providers to adapt how we support these individuals too. Implementing further protective measures for our more vulnerable players as well as adopting innovative digital solutions like RecoverMe has worked well. 

“After our recent partnership with Southampton FC, we were able to raise awareness but more importantly, provide licenses to individuals for free so they were able to manage their gambling addiction from their pocket.”