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Problematic Gambling

What is problem gambling?

Problem gambling is the urge to gamble continuously despite harmful consequences or desire to stop, causing harm to the gambler and those around them.

What is a problem gambler?

Problem gambling can affect anyone. It can happen at any age, to males and females and to people from any ethnic background.

What Causes Problem Gambling?

No one knows what causes problem gambling. Although there are relationships found between family gambling behaviour, age of onset and experiencing a big win early in their gambling career, it is not possible to determine cause and effect.

This is further complicated by the fact that problem gambling is rarely found in isolation. Problem gamblers often also experience other problems, such as alcohol or drug addiction.

How many problem gamblers are there in the UK?

Estimates indicate there are as many as 590,000 problem gamblers in the UK.

When you consider those at-risk or those who are affected by someone’s problem gambling you can conservatively multiply this figure x10.

  • Impacts of Problematic Gambling​
  • Debt
  • Poverty
  • Family and Relationships
  • Domestic Violence
  • Alcohol and Drug Misuse
  • Isolation
  • Accommodation
  • Employment
  • Crime
  • Mental health
  • High risk of suicide
  • Potential identifiers of a problematic gambler
  • Spending longer playing than is reasonable
  • Wins regularly (or big) but remains playing
  • Frequently acquires additional funds
  • Lack of awareness of the environment
  • Alcohol and Drug Misuse
  • Becomes agitated
  • Becomes distressed
  • Becomes aggressive
  • Stays playing when companions have left
  • Seeks to borrow money frequently
  • Asks for help
  • Gambling becomes a problem when it harms your:
  • Mental or physical health
  • Work, school or other activities
  • Finances
  • Reputation
  • Relationships with family and friends
  • Eligible Service Users
  • If you are aged 16 years or over and show any of the following:
  • Have an existing gambling problem
  • Have co-existing gambling problems and other issues
  • Are at risk of developing a gambling problem
  • Have been affected by the gambling of a family member or significant other

Level 2 Ofqual Award – ‘Tackling Gambling-Related Harms'


The ‘Bet You Can Help’ (BYCH) training programme helps support individuals affected by, or at risk, of being affected by gambling-related harm. The course provides candidates with an understanding of the nature, concepts and impacts of harmful gambling and gambling-related harm. It enables them to identify and to signpost affected individuals to sources of reliable information, advice, guidance and support through services delivered via the National Gambling Treatment Service.

The programme is accredited by The Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) and is evaluated by Gambling Research Exchange Ontario (GREO).

The Level 2 qualification was developed in collaboration with a number of experts in the field and from the Gambling Health Alliance (GHA), including Beacon Counselling Trust, Unite the Union and Addiction Recovery Agency.

This programme also incorporates the ‘DON’T BET YOUR LIFE ON IT’ safer gambling tool kit.

Who is this course for?

The ‘Bet You Can Help’ Programme uses a First Aid approach to addressing and supporting those experiencing gambling-related harms. This 6-hour training programme is relevant for anyone working with individuals affected by harmful gambling and gambling-related harms, or those employed in health social care, education, criminal justice, housing, youth work and anyone working in a helping role, for example workforce well-being and union representatives.

Level 2 Award in Tackling Gambling-Related Harms launch webinar

Gambling in the Asian Community – ‘Breaking the Sharam with Gambling Harm’

Working in partnership with Addiction Recovery Agency (ARA) our work with culturally and linguistically diverse communities continues to develop. The ‘Breaking the Sharam’ Project seeks to engage with and support the most vulnerable members of our communities in addressing gambling related harms.

Nathan Quarless– knocking out the harm in harmful gambling

Gambling can hurt your family… Not just your pocket!

The Workplace Charter Programme

Is a collaboration between Unite the Union, the Beacon Counselling Trust and ARA, that provides a framework for action to help employers and trade unions build good practise in health and work-related activities, with the specific target of reducing gambling related harms within the workplace.  

Through adopting a minimum set of standards, the Charter provides practical, evidence-based ways in which employers and trade unions can support and promote the health and wellbeing of their workers experiencing (or at risk of experiencing) gambling related harms.

To view the Interim Report, please click the Download button.

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