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GambleAware report links problem gambling with discrimination

| By Robert Fletcher
People from minority communities who have some form of gambling problem are 50% more likely to have experienced racism or discrimination in public, according to new research commissioned by GambleAware.
GambleAware discrimination problem gambling

Carried out by Ipsos UK and ClearView Research, supported by the University of Manchester, the study focused on potential links between problem gambling and discrimination. Findings have been published today (6 December) by the GambleAware charity.

The study features responses from 2,999 people, including 1,779 white British people and 1,220 from minority communities. It took place in May 2022 and covered England, Wales and Scotland.

GambleAware says the overarching finding was the relationship between problem gambling and discrimination. Half of those from minority communities experiencing problem gambling were more likely to have been subjected to discrimination in public, compared to those who did not have a gambling issue.

Some respondents spoke of a link between experiencing of discrimination and susceptibility to gambling harms. This included racism and discrimination leading to exacerbated gambling behaviour, as well as feelings of social exclusion, reduced employment opportunities and heightened risk of mental health issues.

There were also concerns over those saying gambling was a “coping mechanism”. Some 18% of people from minority backgrounds who gambled are three times more likely to make this link. In comparison, only 6% of white British people who gamble made such a statement. 

“Barriers” to help for problem gambling

The study also looked at barriers stopping people seeking support for their gambling issues. People from minority communities were less likely than people from the white British group to say they would be comfortable talking to family and friends about their habits. 

Minority community respondents were also less comfortable talking to gambling support service providers or a healthcare providers. In relation to this, research flagged a lack of awareness in minority communities of where gambling support.

Perhaps of more concern was some respondents describing a lack of trust in healthcare providers and support services. This was due to previous experiences of racism and discrimination they faced when seeking healthcare. 

Furthermore, minorities said that they could be disproportionately influenced by gambling marketing and advertising. This related to limited understanding about the risks of gambling, making them more susceptible to adverts.

GambleAware urges people to seek help

GambleAware CEO Zoë Osmond said the findings made for concerning reading. However, she also urged those experiencing such issues to contact GambleAware for confidential guidance and support.

“Gambling harms can affect anyone, but they can be more common and more damaging in communities that face social inequality – such as these minority groups,” Osmond said. “Fortunately, help is out there. 

“The National Gambling Support Network offers confidential, tailored support for people from all backgrounds. It also does a lot of community outreach to raise awareness and increase early intervention, so that people from all backgrounds know where to turn and can get help before gambling problems turn into an addiction.”

New funding for gambling support organisations 

GambleAware will be opening a new funding programme later this month. This will seek to address some of the issues flagged in similar research.

Earlier this year, a separate study found gambling participation rate for minority groups was 31%. This was lower than that of white British people, of whom 48% participate in some form of gambling. However, 42% of gamblers from minority backgrounds suffered some form of gambling harm, compared to 20% of white British gamblers.

In response, GambleAware will make some £4.3m (€5.0m/$5.4m) available to organisations in England, Scotland and Wales to help address such issues.

“Our new funding programme is a response to research which demonstrated that both women and people from minority ethnic and religious communities face additional burdens of gambling harm as well as barriers in accessing services which meet their needs.” GambleAware chief commissioning officer Anna Hargrave said.

“Through the fund we will aim to reduce the inequality of experience of gambling harm for women and people from minority religious and ethnic communities.”

Online slots draw most gambling harm contacts in 2022-23

This latest report comes on the back of other data published this week by GambleAware. In its annual statistics, GambleAware said 6,645 people contacted the National Gambling Treatment Service (NGTS) during the reporting period. The gambling harm data covers the 12 months from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.

Some 5,621 people (85%) accessed treatment from the NGTS. The other 15% received support to address the impact of someone else’s gambling.

Almost 38% of those who accessed treatment were for online slots, with internet sports betting second on 15.6%. Fixed-odds gaming machines in bookmaker shops followed with 12.8%, while sports betting and gaming machines in bookmakers each accounted for 10.1%.

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