In the United Kingdom, the never ending circus that is Downing Street continues to spin its cogs very, very, very slowly as the government finds itself in a state of disarray with no focal point and, more concerningly, no indication of an idea on how to govern.
Whilst a political juxtaposition isn’t usually an avenue I would willingly venture down, a continued voice needs to recognise that party in-house fighting for leadership – in a move actioned only to propel the needs of the Conservatives and not the people on whom they were elected to represent – has had a continued negative effect on the latter.
This cirque du slapstick has, once again, brought a delay to the ambiguous White Paper on the Gambling Act. A wait which Gordon Moody’s CEO Matthew Hickey noted was “causing a great deal of uncertainty” in many areas of the industry.
He commented: “From our perspective as a treatment provider we have been impacted by this uncertainty as it threatens to undermine the good work we have done collaboratively with the sector to provide treatment to those who need it most.
“Throughout the pandemic we were supported by our stakeholders which meant we were able to navigate the challenges presented and meet the growing need of those who needed our help.
“New wrap around services and a women’s residential programme were created during this time and we have significantly increased our bedspace to meet the growing demand.
“The delay of the white paper and the uncertainty that this brings especially around the issue of funding could impact on this continued work and have an impact on access to treatment for those most in need. Treatment that for many is lifesaving.”
However, where there is time to reflect, there is time to ponder what could be when, or rather if, the White Paper lands on the desks of companies throughout the gambling sector. One issue that Hickey would like to resolve from the revised Act is clarity on how the funding of research, education and treatment of gambling harm is made available and governed.
“We strive to provide the very highest standards of care for our residents and therefore it is important that a robust funding model is in place to ensure we continue to provide the effective treatment that helps people reclaim and rebuild their lives free from gambling addiction,” Gordon Moody’s CEO stated.
“We have seen from the changing needs of our service users that innovation in this space is important and it is essential that there are opportunities for the sector to develop. Gambling addiction has not had the recognition that other issues such as substance abuse has had yet the effects of this addiction being untreated can be devastating for the individual and their families.
“The gambling act review is an opportunity for more funding to be made available to the sector so that we can continue to tackle gambling addiction together.”
Though the review process is still not finalised and released, this delay should not result in gambling companies sitting on their hands waiting for it to drop on their desk. When asked what more firms can do in the industry, Hickey stated that everyone involved in problem gambling is “on a steep learning curve”.
He explained: “I feel that all of us, treatment providers and industry alike are on a steep learning curve about how we interact and engage and treat those that need support. It’s paramount that we work collaboratively to provide the right assistance at the right time in the right place.
“There is a real opportunity to share experience, data and innovation so that the customer experience for problem gamblers is consistent across all operators and treatment providers. The major concern for us as a treatment provider is when someone affected by harm makes the courageous decision to reach out for help and come forward, but then disappears.
“This is common at this vulnerable time with some not reaching out again for a long period of time if not at all. We cannot let that happen anymore. We must work collaboratively as an industry to break down these barriers, reduce stigma and find a way of helping those people when they first come forward.”
One way that Gordon Moody has continued to break down barriers and provide a place for people to feel comfortable coming forward is via its clinics. Recently, the charity opened a hub in the city of Manchester, a development Hickey stated that the firm was “immensely proud” of, whilst stressing that demand for bed space has increased since the pandemic.
He added: “Gordon Moody provides a unique treatment offer through residential and retreat programmes where our service users can break the cycle of addiction in a safe supported environment.
“Our 14-week residential programme designed for those severely affected by gambling harm provides unrivalled outcomes with many who access the service going on to enjoy a sustained recovery free from gambling. Our unique women’s residential service has been created to meet the needs of women severely impacted by gambling harm, many of whom need to escape an environment which is further impacting on their issues.
“Whilst for many the opportunity to spend time being able to focus on themselves in a residential setting is fundamental to their treatment for some it is not possible, so our retreat and counselling programmes have been designed to offer a hybrid of short stay retreats and online therapy which have helped hundreds of people on the road to recovery.”
With demand for bed space rising, Hickey noted that gambling addiction is “serious” with many accessing Gordon Moody’s treatment as a “last chance to try and beat the addiction”.
He concluded: “The vast majority of our service users have previously accessed some form of treatment for their gambling but have relapsed, felt it was not for them or have not received the required level of support. Gordon Moody was set up in 1971 for that very reason.
“The Reverend Gordon Moody brought gamblers anonymous groups to the UK in the 1960s and became an honorary member. After sitting in on the groups he realised that for many the issues caused by gambling were so severe that they had led to the loss of work, the breakup of families and for some the loss of their home. This led to Gordon Moody opening Gordon House in 1971 as a hostel for single men left homeless by gambling.
“Whilst the treatment programme has changed over the 50 years and our services have expanded to meet the needs of women as well as men, the ethos of Gordon Moody is very much the same and our vision is to be the UK’s benchmark for successfully treating people with the most severe gambling addictions.”