News

Gambling Watch Scotland

Section: People and NetworksType: News Item Date Published: 28th June 2021
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The Machine Zone Community Interest Group have launched a new website, Gambling Watch Scotland.

There is a growing realisation of the harms that gambling can cause. These include family breakdown, debt, unemployment and possibly turning to crime. Such factors go hand in hand with increasing mental and emotional distress which sadly have been identified as a big cause of suicide, especially in men.

It is a ‘hidden addiction’ both because it’s difficult to ‘see’ and there is a lack of awareness even among health and social care professionals. There are some third sector support services in Scotland but none from the NHS built around government policies. It can often be hard for an individual to find joined-up pathways that can help with mental health, addiction, finance, family relationships, employment and legal issues. It is estimated that between six and ten other people close to a person suffering direct harms are seriously affected which makes the situation more pervasive. Children especially may suffer greatly from a parent’s difficulties.

Children also are at direct risk from gambling. One in fifty 11 – 16 year olds are known to have serious problems from their own gambling. Conservative estimates are that 46,000 adults in Scotland, one per cent of the population, suffer severely while some research suggests that the figure is considerably higher. A further 1.2% of adults at these lower estimated figures are at immediate risk. Estimated figures which are higher may see approaching a million people affected directly or indirectly. Not everyone with difficulties is an ‘addict’. Harms can be seen on a spectrum with some presenting at a level which maintains a reduced quality of life without reaching crisis.

When the 2005 Gambling Act came into being the staggering growth of digital gambling was unforseen. Today, anybody with a smartphone has a potential ‘casino in the pocket’. Encouragement to play is witnessed in saturation advertising, especially in relation to sport, and social media targeting. Currently the Westminster government is considering the many thousands of responses to its call for evidence about the Act, and intends to produce a white paper at the end of 2021 which will detail changes to that Act. These changes will hopefully provide much greater attention to minimising risk for those who gamble.

A new website has been launched, https://gamblingwatchscotland.org.uk (this link will take you away from our website), which explores and explains major issues around gambling in Scotland. This follows on from previous work looking at gambling by The Machine Zone (this link will take you away from our website). The new website is based around the lived experience of people hurt by gambling. It also has sections on support resources, education, how stigma is an obstacle to seeking support, mental health and addiction, and national developments. The latter includes close collaboration with the ALLIANCE’s Scotland Reducing Gambling Harm initiative and others such as COPE Scotland (this link will take you away from our website), as well as following work from public health initiatives in Glasgow and beyond.

If you haven’t considered gambling as a major mental health issue take a look at Gambling Watch Scotland (this link will take you away from our website). Please share your thoughts, experiences and work to help spread awareness to others.

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