Calls to GamCare’s national helpline rise as cost of living crisis worsens

costs of living

The number of callers to GamCare’s National Gambling Helpline increased by five per cent, the charity has reported.

This morning, the group published its annual report for 2021-22, covering the 12 months ending 31 March 2022, revealing that the amount of callers to its helpline had reached a record high of 42,070.

GamCare also pointed to the impact of the costs of living crisis and shaky economic conditions, as well as general political and industry uncertainty as stakeholders continue to await the several-times-delayed Gambling Act review outcome.

Anna Hemmings, GamCare CEO, said: “While 2021-22 has been characterised by continuing uncertainty, coming out of lockdown and the Gambling Act White Paper delayed further, what we’ve seen from our data is an increasing demand for GamCare’s services.

“In this context, our teams have demonstrated incredible resilience and agility, offering a more diverse range of support than ever before to support people with gambling harm.”

Regarding driving factors behind issues, GamCare found that financial difciutlites were cited as a cause by 32% of the 7,500 service users who responded when asked about this.

On the other hand, chasing losses was the biggest factor at 64%, followed by escapism and boredom at 33% each. GamCare maintains, however, that many bettors are experiencing financial trouble, with 62% of surveyed players reported fiscal difficulties, 

Additionally, 57% disclosed having built up debt due to gambling, and 46% of ‘affected others’ – such as relatives of problem gamblers – also reported financial difficulties.

The report also found a geographic disparity in terms of experienced problem gambling and associated harm, with the North West, South East, East of England and London accounting for 62% of those accessing treatment. 

“Looking forward, with rising costs now impacting people, we know that many who rely on our service will be affected and are monitoring this closely,” Hemmings concluded.

“Last year almost one-third of people who contacted our Helpline cited financial difficulties as the reason they initially chose to gamble. However, after their experiences of gambling, this figure jumps to three in four people who say they experience financial difficulties now as a result of it. 

“We know that gambling should not be seen as a financial opportunity, we are here for anyone struggling with their gambling through the cost-of-living crisis.”

Lastly, the number of people receiving treatment declined ‘slightly’ from 2020-21, standing at 9,728 people, whilst a gender imbalance saw 70% of helpline callers identify as men and 30% as women.

Post-March developments have seen GamCare announce the trial of the ‘Way Forward’ programme aimed specifically at female problem gamblers – who its report noted, as mentioned above, comprise around a third of those seeking help.

Additionally, the charity is also launching a package which would enable betting businesses to transfer safer gambling calls straight to the National Gambling Helpline, which it believes will assist operators in meeting updated UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) requirements.