GambleAware Launches New Campaign
UK charity GambleAware has launched a new phase in its campaign to promote the National Gambling Treatment Service. The “Start to Regain Control” campaign will run through the first half of 2021, and aims to raise awareness of services for those living in the most at-risk areas.
Raising Awareness for Treatment
In a press release published on January 11th, GambleAware revealed the next phase of its campaign to improve the reach and general awareness of the National Gambling Treatment Service. A multi-faceted advertising campaign has been developed, which will see content air on radio and digital platforms, as well as in regional press, throughout the month of January.
It’s a positive start to the year for GambleAware, a charity who’s mission it is to tackle gambling harms using a public health approach. The campaign has been named “Start to Regain Control”, and hones in on situations in which gambling overshadows other aspects of everyday life. The tagline “when you’re there, but not there” describes compulsive gambling, when it has gone past the point of enjoyment and has become problematic.
GambleAware has drawn on insight provided by people with real-life experience of problem gambling. They reported feelings of disconnectedness, and feeling distant from friends and family. The campaign offers treatment for those who may be experiencing problem gambling, and explains how treatment can be accessed.
Last year, GambleAware commissioned research to find out what impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on gambling in the UK. It found that participants who registered a higher PGSI score faced increased likelihood of gambling between March and May in 2020. PGSI stands for Problem Gambling Severity Index, and is the method used to measure risky behaviors in problem gambling.
In addition to this, the research highlighted a decrease in appointments with mental health professionals, as availability for in-person meetings dropped during the pandemic. In short, those who were most vulnerable to gambling harms faced increased risk, whilst access to treatment became more difficult to find.
GambleAware has targeted its latest campaign on redressing this balance, basing it on the Treatment Needs and Gap Analysis research published last year. That research shows how rates of problem gambling are dispersed around the UK and pinpoints which regions contain the highest proportion of people that fall into the “very high risk” category of gambling harms. Areas in most need of help included the East and West Midlands and London.
The charity has a proven track-record with its previous campaigns to raise awareness of the National Gambling Treatment Service. Data has shown likelihood to contact the National Gambling Helpline rose from 13% to 23%, as a result of its efforts. Communications and Engagement Director, Zoe Osmond has high hopes for its latest media blitz:
“So far the campaign has proven to be successful in encouraging people to contact the National Gambling Treatment Service for support, but there is still more to be done. During the pandemic and this extremely difficult time for people, it is vital that we continue to ensure those in need of help understand what services are available to them, which is why we are taking this targeted approach to help reach those high risk areas across Great Britain.”
The National Gambling Treatment Service works alongside the NHS to offer treatment for problem gamblers throughout the UK. Treatment is free for recipients and can take place on the phone, online or via face-to-face sessions. Those seeking treatment can refer themselves using the 24/7 National Gambling Helpline, which is offered through a system of NHS trusts and volunteer organizations.
The new phase of the GambleAware’s campaign is targeted at the most high-risk group of gamblers, men aged between 25 and 55. By highlighting the treatment service and the 24-hour helpline, it aims to increase awareness of the support that is out there for those in need of help. The adverts have also been designed to boost awareness of the signs of problem gambling, so that more people may be able to recognize when someone they know needs help.
During the 12 months leading up to March 31st 2020, the National Gambling Treatment Service offered treatment to 9,000 people. Meanwhile, the National Gambling Helpline received 39,000 calls and online chats. The charity is also responsible for the BeGambleAware.org website, which at that time received 7.7 million views.
Other campaigns spearheaded by GambleAware include “Bet Regret”, which is targeted at those who fall short of the bottom-line for having a gambling disorder. It’s main focus is to encourage safer gambling with limits in place, to prevent gambling problems from developing. However, as a campaign it did not come without criticism. According to the Guardian newspaper, some experts argued that its message could reinforce self-blame amongst gamblers.
During 2020, there was considerable concern for the welfare of gamblers during periods of lockdown. Financial insecurity coupled with the free time of furlough and unemployment posed a serious risk for those most prone to gambling harms. Stress and social isolation could also contribute to gambling taking over from other priorities in life. In April, the NHS warned that gambling problems could rise.
In May, during the first lockdown, members of the Betting and Gaming Council agreed to stop airing gambling adverts on TV and radio. Now it is 2021, and pandemic restrictions are still in place in the UK and the rest of the world. Although the UK is in lockdown, this time around gambling ads are allowed to air. However, the BGC has renewed its commitment to support safer gambling. In an open letter, BGC chair, Brigid Simmonds wrote:
“We want to be an industry which is respected around the world for its best-in-class approach to delivering high standards and promoting safer gambling. We want to encourage more discussion about the risks of gambling, but at the same time the Gambling Review must not risk driving the millions who enjoy a flutter into the arms of the illegal, online black market, which has none of the safeguards which are synonymous with the regulated industry.”