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  • The invisible addiction - Gambling Disorder

    Would you know if a family member, friend, or employee was suffering from gambling disorder? How do you recognise it? Unlike alcohol or drug addiction where individuals show associated visual signs of their addiction those suffering from gambling disorder are less visible and one might say generally invisible. So much so that in those cases where individuals complete suicide family members say they had no idea their husband, wife, son, or daughter was suffering from gambling disorder. So being the invisible addiction, this poses a number of challenges to those family members or employers who want to help. I want to look at this from an employer's perspective and with the assumption that the employer is truly interested in balancing the success of the organisation with the well-being of their staff. Firstly though, we need to consider what impact the addiction has on one's mental state, especially when at the height of the addiction. To answer this I have to depend on the information that has been shared with me during general conversations with those recovering from the disorder. Also, as an affected other, I can look back on my son's own situation. They have explained it in a variety of ways but all imply that the only thing constantly on their mind was gambling or gambling-related for example looking for loans to fund their next bet and that they found it very difficult to concentrate on anything else. So much so, that their general performance and health declined. If you then link this to sleep deprivation either caused by playing online games through the night or lying in bed at night worrying about the consequences of their disorder, then in my own words it would suggest that they were in a mentally fragile state where they were more prone to making human errors. So, what might this mean to a business? Risk: If your business requires your employees to perform tasks that require high levels of concentration then could this be increasing product or service defects? In the worst-case scenario, this could result in an incident or accident leading to injury or fatality. Brand: Could your business brand be damaged as a result of the above risks? What damage would this do to your company image and to the well-being of your employees? Productivity: If your employees are not focusing on the task required to be delivered then it is likely their productivity will be less. If they are using technology as part of their work activities could they in fact be spending less time working and some of their work time gambling online? With mobile phones being one of the main modes for doing work and also for gambling online how would you know? Staff Well-Being: If you are committed to staff well-being do your policies and culture enable and encourage your staff to feel safe enough to discuss their disorder. If not you may find your sickness levels being increased and your risks increasing. Incident/Accident Reporting and Investigating Procedures: Do these look at the human factor and if they do, how do they assess the individual's mental health well-being at the time. In my view, the current level of harm from gambling disorder is underestimated as procedures do not look for this area of risk. For alcohol and drug-related accidents/incidents, taking a blood sample enables you to assess if these addictions are a factor. With gambling disorder, there is no such test. The aim of this post is to help employers to be more aware of this disorder and to think about how they respond appropriately to it. With online gambling products now offering a "casino in your pocket" 24/7; a high proportion of the population who like to gamble and with the National Audit Office in 2019 reporting that in the UK there are around 55,000 aged 11 to 16 year old problem gamblers with a further 85,000 assessed to be at risk, then this is something which is likely to be an ongoing issue which may grow further with time. So employers need a sustainable approach to respond to this. Whereas an employer can introduce random blood sampling to monitor alcohol or drug intake to mitigate this risk, this cannot be done for gambling. The World Health Organisation states that " The gambling related burden of harm appears to be of a similar magnitude to major depressive disorder and alcohol misuse and dependence. It is substantially higher than harm attributed to drug dependence disorder". Interestingly, many of those I have met in recovery from the disorder are becoming or have become more successful in their employment life. This suggests to me that employers can get a win: win by doing the right thing. I am aware that by writing this post some employers could just try to identify and dismiss those with gambling disorder from the organisation. The stigma around gambling often portrays individuals as selfish and weak. This is not true. This fails to recognise that this disorder needs treatment and support like any other. Also, such an approach will fail to reduce organisational risk. In fact in my opinion it will increase it. I am, however, hopeful that there are more employers who truly care about their staff's well-being. Recognising that they are key to their success and by looking after them when they need help, they in return will do their best for their employer. If you would like to discuss gambling disorder further with people who have lived experience, then please contact Gambling Education Network (GEN).

  • Gambling harm in the PSHE curriculum

    The PSHE curriculum was updated in September 2020 to include education surrounding gambling harm for the first time. [1, 2] Despite this change, compared to drugs, alcohol and tobacco education in Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education, education on gambling harm is neglected. [3] There is no mention of gambling education in the PSHE primary education curriculum (Table 1) despite the increasing convergence of gambling and gaming. In secondary education, pupils are only required to learn about the risks of online gambling and debt accumulation (Table 2). There is no mention of addiction to gambling and the physical and psychological risks and consequences on the individual who gambles and those around the individual who gambles. Unlike what is seen in the curriculum for drug, alcohol, and tobacco education, there is also no mention of links to other mental health conditions. The difference in the amount of coverage on the PSHE curriculum shows gambling harm is not taken as seriously as alcohol and substance addiction despite the WHO reporting that "the gambling-related burden of harm appears to be of similar magnitude to harm attributed to major depressive disorder and alcohol misuse and dependence. It is substantially higher than harm attributed to drug dependence disorder." [4] It is also important to note that gambling harm is only included in the curriculum within 'internet safety and harms' in spite of a significant amount of gambling harm arising from land-based venues. Moreover, the inclusion of gambling disorder in the DSM-V in the ‘Addictions and Related Disorders’ category alongside substance addictions suggests the need for a holistic and overarching view of addiction in meaningful education and awareness. [4] Table 1 – Primary By the end of primary school: Note. Taken from website (3) Table 2 – Secondary Schools should continue to develop knowledge on topics specified for primary as required and in addition, cover the following content by the end of secondary: Note. Taken from website (3) References 1) PSHE Association and GambleAware launch gambling education handbook. Available from: 2) T Menmuir. UK Schools to introduce Gambling curriculum for September 2020. SBC News. 16 March 2020. Available from: 3) Government curriculum. Available from: 4) Professor M Abbott. The epidemiology and impact of gambling disorder and other gambling-related harm. World Health Organisation. 26 June 2017

  • Skin betting

    Online gambling platforms are often misunderstood by those who do not engage in them, particularly ones which rely on an understanding of existing gaming mechanics. The convergence of gaming and gambling in this manner provides mediums which can be used to gamble using in-game items. eSports Many games, particularly those considered “eSports” (electronic sports) and the communities surrounding them provide an incentive to gamble. The online communities surrounding esports have grown in popularity following the rise of online streaming platforms, such as Twitch, professionally commentated web broadcasts, and a generally more connected and international online community. [1] Matches, and thus bets placed on them, maybe informally between friends or on the outcomes of top-tier competitors from anywhere in the world. Indeed, many recognised wagering operators now host cash betting on the outcome of esports matches. Something which is particularly prevalent with young people and those who are familiar with online games, however, is “skin betting”. Skin betting Skins, cosmetic game items which confer different aesthetics to in-game items, or provide different unlockable outfits for a character, are often acquired from in-game loot boxes, which provide different odds of acquiring different items. (see previous articles on simulated gambling and loot boxes). This means that on a consumer-led market, such as online “skin trading” platforms, (websites which allow the sale and purchase of other players’ unlocked items) some item prices are driven up due to a combination of their rarity, appeal, and desirability. Some gaming platforms, such as Steam, allow for the legitimate trade of items within the same platform games are published. Some items on marketplaces go for prices in the thousands, and some are very low-value. Skin betting occurs when people stake skins, typically relatively high-value skins, on the outcome of an event. These bets may be placed informally between friends, but more high-stakes skin betting tends to occur via third-party platforms that “hold” the staked items, and “payout” the skins to the winner of the bet. Skins act in this way as a form of virtual currency, and indeed, the purchase and sale of skins have their own economy. Skins can also be considered as “tokens” for real-life currency. [2] Though Steam does not allow direct conversion of skins back into currency and has limitations on purchasing in some instances, third-party programs may be used to “cash-out” of bets or purchases, allowing items to be traded for incredibly high amounts of real-world currency. These are transferred between players via a “bot”, or puppet Steam account, an automatic process coded by those who run the gambling website. eSports betting and gambling harm eSports bettors are a group which is vulnerable to harm. eSports bettors were found by one study to be far more likely to meet “problem gambler” criteria (64.8% of bettors) than those who engage in sports betting (17.3% of bettors). They were also significantly more likely than sports bettors to experience at least one instance of gambling harm. This may be due to the uniquely unregulated world of skin betting and eSports betting. There is an observable rise in those self-reporting their involvement in skin betting. Engagement of youth with in-game purchases and online gambling is high. The frequency of online gambling generally has increased in 2019, with 7% of 11-16 year-olds in the UK reporting having gambled online. There is also a gender bias in these statistics, with adolescent boys being significantly more likely to gamble in this way. According to Ipsos MORI data, 44% of young people aged 11-16 who had heard of in-game items have used the money to pay for them, and 6% had said that they engaged in betting with them. [3] In more recent studies, rates of adolescents who had engaged in skin betting were 11% in the UK, and in one Australian study, one in seven adolescents engaged in skin betting in the past year. Adolescents are 2.5x more likely to engage in betting with skins than with cash, and there is a robust association between skin gambling, overall gambling problems, and factors such as low wellbeing. The subcultures that youth engage in often actively encourage skin gambling with content creators and streamers advertising gambling on their media platforms, and other users in-game advertising the sites on their profile descriptions. Little research into the effects of this constant exposure has been conducted. Regulation of eSports and online skin betting Despite the harm caused, this method of gambling is currently exempt from many regulations, and even if regulation were to be put into place, it would be difficult to enact due to the nature of the industry. The market is largely consumer-led, and the third-party sites which facilitate the transactions can allow people to evade legislation in a particular country, which allows one to access the internet as if from a different country. [4] The introduction of age verification checks on these gambling websites, if made mandatory, may help with the issue of underage gambling, but there are ways for children and young people to circumvent current methods of age checks by using the identification of an older relative or friend. Meaningful legislation and regulation may be the most effective methods of harm reduction to implicate; in several areas. First is legislation regarding gambling advertising in online spheres and on a platform level; gambling is promoted to children via social media and by game influencers. A blanket ban on advertising for skin betting in user profiles would be an achievable goal, and would likely have support from a proportion of the user base, as many are tired of seeing these adverts. Second is the requirement for online skin gambling platforms to be licensed as online gambling operators and for video game gambling to be considered a form of gambling under UK law. [5] Overall, it is clear that gambling in video games and gaming communities is a growing industry, and steps must be taken to further understand, prevent, and ameliorate the harms experienced. [1]Edge, N., 2013. Evolution of the gaming experience: live video streaming and the emergence of a new web community. Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, 4(2). [2]Thorhauge, A.M. and Nielsen, R.K., 2021. Epic, Steam, and the role of skin-betting in game (platform) economies. Journal of Consumer Culture, 21(1), pp.52-67. [3] Ipsos MORI via Gambling Commission. Gambling Commission publishes the 2019 Young People and Gambling report. (Oct 23, 2019) [4]McLeod, C., 2017. More Than Skin Deep: Why It's Time to Go'All-In'on Skin Gambling Regulation. Available at SSRN 3159661. [5]Greer, N., Rockloff, M.J., Russell, A.M. and Lole, L., 2021. Are esports bettors a new generation of harmed gamblers? A comparison with sports bettors on gambling involvement, problems, and harm. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 10(3), pp.435-446.

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  • Meet the team | Gambling Education Network

    Our Team. Every member of the Gambling Education Network leadership team has lived experience of gambling harm, and we are all driven by a need to channel our experiences in a positive manner towards a greater good. The Gambling Education Network team believe that our unique balance of lived and professional experiences help us to excel in all of our research and education efforts . Julie Martin Diverse Communities Project Officer I am what you would call an affected other. I've never been a gambler myself, but in my 25-year marriage, my husband gambled heavily over multiple years on and off. Sadly at the age of 50, my marriage is now over and I divorced my husband after he went into a spiral of online gambling during more Christopher Webster Diverse Communities Project Manager Christopher Webster joins the GEN team with significant experience in third sector and health project management, education and the gambling industry. He has seen significant evidence of gambling harms within colleagues, close friends and family around him for much of his life... read more George Ellis Research Manager Operational Team John Gilham CEO Ten years ago, I never thought I would be taking on a role to help increase awareness of the risks and harm associated with gambling. Now I am an affected other as a consequence of my son more Trustees Dr Kishan Patel Chair of Trustees I've experienced gambling harm all my life - right from birth. For the first 22 years of my life, I didn't fully comprehend gambling harm. To me, I thought we were the only ones - no one will understand anything. Before I got to the age more Lesley Buckland Trustee Christopher Gilham Trustee I have personally experienced gambling harm, as well as alcohol dependence. I have been gamble free and sober since October 2017.Since a child I have battled with my mental health. I started to drink and then later gamble... read more Craig Spencer Trustee Marie-Claire Conlin Trustee I was born and raised in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and now live in Toronto, Canada. I'm very passionate about contributing to reducing gambling harms in the UK and bringing my knowledge and experience from the Canadian mental health and addictions sector... read more Dean Renphrey Trustee

  • Diverse Communities Initiative | Gambling Education Network

    Preventing Gambling Harm in Diverse Communities Preventing Gambling Harms in Diverse Communities The ‘Preventing Gambling Harms in Diverse Communities’ initiative has been developed through a unique collaboration between Gambling Education Network and YGAM. The prevention programme will deliver free specialist workshops to young people from ethnic minority populations aged 14–24, as well as free training to community and faith leaders. The programme content centres on an understanding of socio-cultural and religious contexts on shame and stigma relating to gambling harms. Book a FREE workshop here The most recent gold-standard gambling prevalence surveys, BGPS 2007 and BGPS 2010, found that Asian and Black ethnic groups were disproportionately affected by gambling disorders with an odds ratio of around 3x relative to White ethnic groups. Our Results 4.2 💡 The average rating of confidence in attendees across six key learning objectives went from 2.8 to 4.2 in a five-point Likert scale where three represents neither agree nor disagree and five represents strongly agree 4.4 ⭐ Gambling Education Network facilitators are consistently highly rated with an average score of 4.4 in a five-point Likert scale, where a score of four represents 'good' and a score of five represents 'excellent' 8% ⚠️ 8% of attendees at Gambling Education Network workshops have experienced significant past-year gambling harm, either harm from their own gambling or gambling harm from someone elses gambling in the household 80% 🙌 80% of young people who attended Gambling Education Network workshops said that they were less likely to suffer gambling harm as a result of the workshop. 90% amongst those experiencing harm Our Workshops 1. Interactive Created by experts following best practices in learning theory Responsive high-impact learning in our in-person workshops using Audience Response Clicker tech and our virtual workshops using Mentimeter Young people led the design process to ensure that workshops are maximally impactful, useful and engaging 2. Meaningful Provide an authentic insight into the journey of addiction Grounded exploration of the causes, risk factors, catalysts, and the harms through discussions Considerate discussion of harms that can often get overshadowed but occur before a crisis 3. Novel A range of original and newly created media including a short-film and animated explainer videos Complement different learning styles including audio, visual, reading, and writing Accompanied with asynchronous content and signposting literature 4. Representative Reflective of a deep and considerate understanding of gambling-harm shame and stigma Delivered by a diverse team of individuals to reflect the diverse nature of the communities that we are seeking to make an impact 5. High-impact Designed by leading experts across a range of different gambling-harm and health-education backgrounds Builds a solid foundation in understanding addictions and the harms from them through a holistic consideration for the factors that lead to and result from gambling-harm and how harm can be prevented or mitigated 6. Authentic Built on the most up to date evidence-based understanding of education across gambling-harm, alcohol, and substances Created by a team who has either lived experience or expert knowledge of gambling harm or both Reflective discussion of industry strategies from marketing to design Book a FREE workshop here

  • Gambling Education Network | Awareness & Prevention

    We are a leading impact-focused UK charity dedicated to the prevention and reduction of gambling harm. According to the World Health Organization, "The gambling-related burden of harm appears to be of similar magnitude to harm attributed to major depressive disorder and alcohol misuse and dependence. It is substantially higher than harm attributed to drug dependence disorder" Here at Gambling Education Network, we know that sometimes all it takes to change the world is a little support. Since our founding in 2020, we have been determined to make as much impact as possible. The core of our efforts is to bring out the ideas and passion of people with lived experience to a range of activities that reduce and prevent gambling harm. Through all of our endeavours, we ensure that we display the conviction that matches the need. Learn More Our Values We are authentic We know first-hand that gambling harm can be prevented and that can be life-changing and potentially life-saving for individuals and their loved ones. ​ We are impact-driven We believe in our determined resolve to tackle the injustices surrounding gambling harm, hence we specialise in addressing disproportionately affected and neglected issues. ​ We are lived experience We believe that individuals with lived experience of gambling harm are the experts and that they should be provided with meaningful opportunities to have a positive impact. ​ We are inclusive We believe in making sure our team represents the diverse needs of the populations we aim to serve. ​ We are collaborators We believe in sharing what we know so that our work can be maximally impactful and reach people affected by gambling harm everywhere. Our Impact 47,000+ 🎥 'Do It For Her' has reached over 47, 000 views since it's release. The film demonstrates risk factors towards gambling harm, industry tactics, manifestations and progression of gambling harm across six domains, and the potential of harm recovery ​ 1.3M+ ⚕️ Gambling Education Network has worked with some of the largest Medical Education Platforms including Geeky Medics, Osmosis, and Imperial College London, raising awareness of gambling harm to platforms with over 1 million health care professional clicks 50+ 📰 Gambling Education Network have actively raised awareness of gambling harm with over 50 different media publications in the past year spanning from BBC Breakfast, The Sunday Times, WIRED Magazine, BBC Hooked, and many more ​ 20+ 🔬 Gambling Education Network have publically published over twenty hard-hitting research reports on gambling-harm. In the past year, our work has focussed on synthesising gambling harm issues, with focus towards understanding the significance of gambling harm Do It For Her A short film written by: Mohammedally Shushtari, directed by: Shehroze Khan and starring: Fady Elsayed. ​ In 2021, Gambling Education Network began working with Fully Focussed and Million Youth Media on a short film to help raise awareness and understanding of the disproportionate gambling harm experienced by young people from minority backgrounds. Read More Watch now Featured Posts The invisible addiction - Gambling Disorder Would you know if a family member, friend, or employee was suffering from gambling disorder? How do you recognise it? Unlike alcohol or... Gambling-harm in Young People (Infographics) Prevalence of gambling in Young People (11-16 year olds) Prevalence of gambling harm in Young People (11-16 year olds) Miscellaneous Gambling harm and stigma What is Stigma? Stigma is a social phenomenon where certain characteristics, qualities or features of an identifiable group are regarded... 1 2 3 4 Lived Experiences of Gambling Harm Play Video Play Video 02:01 The CAGE of Addiction One way of understanding addiction is through CAGE as both an acronym for signs of addiction (Cut down, Annoyed, Guilty, and Eye-Opener) and a metaphor for how addiction traps the individual and often their loved ones into addiction cycles. An individual with an addiction may: want to Cut down, feel Annoyed when other criticise them about the addictive behaviour, feel bad or Guilty about the addictive behaviour, engage in the addictive behaviour first thing in the morning to steady their nerves or to feel 'normal' (Eye-opener) Play Video Play Video 00:56 Gambling Harm - Who Can It Affect? 1 in 10 adults in the past year have been significantly affected by gambling harm. Research has consistently demonstrated that individuals that are: young, male, and that belong to ethnic minority backgrounds, are disproportionately susceptible to gambling disorder. Gambling disorder (the most severe level of gambling harm from an individual's own gambling) is between 3 to 5 times more prevalent amongst ethnic minority groups relative to white ethnic groups. Moreover, gambling harm is likely to have a worse impact on those from a minority ethnic background, and this is in part due to differences in cultural attitudes, stigma, and health awareness. Gambling disorder is also most prevalent amongst 16-24 year olds than in any other age group. In the last gold-standard prevalence survey conducted in 2010, the prevalence of gambling disorder according to PGSI among 16-24 year olds was at 2.0% (males: 2.7%, females 1.2%), whereas the prevalence by PGSI of the whole population was measured at 1.0% (males: 1.7%, females 0.3%). Play Video Play Video 01:11 Gambling Harm - Motivations to Gamble According to the BGPS 2010, motivations for gambling can be grouped into categories of: Social - this includes gambling either to be sociable or because it’s something that one does with friends and family Money - this includes gambling to make money or gambling for the chance of winning big money Enhancement - this includes gambling for the challenge, to compete against others, for a sense of achievement and for the excitement. Recreation - this includes motives related to filling time, hobbies and past times, fun and relaxation. Coping - this includes gambling to relieve tension or impress others. Play Video Play Video 01:05 Gambling Harm - Escalation of Harms Gambling harm can be particularly devastating as it can have a profound impact across several domains including health, work or study, and relationships. Moreover, these impacts can be lifelong or even intergenerational. It's important to remember that anyone can be affected by gambling harm. An individual does not need to have a gambling disorder to suffer gambling harm. In fact, 1 in 10 adults in the past year are expected to suffer gambling harm. According to the World Health Organisation: "The gambling-related burden of harm appears to be of similar magnitude to harm attributed to major depressive disorder and alcohol misuse and dependence. It is substantially higher than harm attributed to drug dependence disorder" Play Video Play Video 01:14 Gambling Harm - Finding Recovery If you are suffering from gambling harm, support and treatment is available. "Understanding the role gambling plays in your life can be the first step in making changes to reduce the harm it causes. It is unlikely that there will be a single answer, and you may need a combination of strategies to make lasting changes. You are more likely to be successful if you have support from others. For free information, advice and support you can contact gamcare advisors on 0808 80 20 133 or visit to find out about treatment and support available in your area." Additionally, the NHS Live Well website contains advice as well as signposting to other free treatment and support options. Lastly, feel free to check out 'The All Bets Are Off Podcast', which has over 50 hours of gambling addiction recovery content covering a wide range of discussion points, including everything from recovery stories and signposting. Frequently Asked Questions

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