GamCare issues warning of gambling risks during Christmas period

GamCare has issued a warning that “that the festive holidays can be a tough time for people trying to control their gambling,” as its helpline advisers warn of the Christmas risks around betting and gaming.

These are cautioning that, for those experiencing gambling harms, “not being able to buy presents for the children is something that hits home for many more than anything else.”

The helpline recorded an 18 percent increase in referrals into treatment during pre-lockdown in January 2020, with staff also reporting an increase in safeguarding issues around the festive period.

GamCare has also warned that Christmas can expose financial issues, social isolation and mental health difficulties that often surround a gambling problem.

Furthermore, it adds that an early December payday can add extra temptation to gamble, with other triggers including the influence of alcohol, changes in routine and an increase in sporting events to bet on.

Fiona Macleod, director of clinical and communities, explained: “With more financial and family pressures, we know that the festive holidays can be a tough time for people trying to control their gambling. 

“During December, along with an early wage, there are more sporting events in close succession, heavy advertising from gambling companies, coupled with many people having free, unstructured time away from work.

“People who have an issue with gambling may have also spent a long time hiding it, and we often hear that Christmas may be the trigger for them facing their problem.  

“Not being able to buy presents for their children is something that can hit home for those experiencing gambling harms more than anything else. For some people, it might be the isolation and loneliness that is the trigger.”

New research of over 1000 UK adults carried out for GamCare during December 3-6, 2021, shows that over six million Brits know someone with a gambling issue.  

The charity also cites that one in five Brits have used either their Christmas pay or bonus on placing a bet, with eight percent saying they do it regularly.  

“We are always here to listen and support you when you might feel you have no other options. A message of hope – that is essentially what we’re giving people,” added Macleod.  

“Our phone line is open 24/7 over the Christmas period. In lockdowns, we have seen an increase in people opting for our live chat option.  We want to remind people that this is still available if privacy is a concern.”