3. Strengthen the system of support for those who do experience harm
Problem gambling is a complex issue that often relates to other challenges in people’s lives, from work and relationships to health and addiction. That’s why it requires a system-wide response. We will work with expert partners to play our part in strengthening the connections that are needed to support people experiencing harm from gambling.
Traditional responses aren’t sufficient to close the care gap for people with problems today.
There are an estimated 430,000 people in the UK who are problem gamblers and studies have found that only 2% of those received treatment. This year William Hill is providing £1.5m in funding for organisations to undertake research, education and treatment for people who experience harm from gambling - but we know that the system currently in place to support problem gamblers is struggling to handle the size of the challenge.
As we have been listening to experts, we’ve learned more about the complexity of the challenge – and what’s needed to make a meaningful difference. Problem gambling is wrapped up with a whole host of other social factors like substance abuse and mental health conditions. Heavy drinkers have four times the level of problem gambling compared to light drinkers and problem gamblers are twice as likely to have been in a physical fight.
This means we need to go beyond our business to strengthen connection with organisations that are focused on those other social factors that are linked to gambling.
Building on our links to a broad range of community organisations is important for getting those experiencing harm the help that they need.
Problem gambling is closely linked to a broader set of issues, including mental health, financial challenges and unemployment. The statistics are alarming. Three out of five problem gamblers have suffered depression as a result of their gambling – and gamblers are four times more likely to have suicidal thoughts. Half of problem gamblers have almost lost their jobs due to gambling – with a third actually losing their jobs.
We can’t solve this complex issue alone – we’ll need to partner with organisations that are tackling these related issues. We already work with a broad range of community partners, including the Scottish FA’s ‘Support Within Sport’ Mental Health initiative and the Alzheimer’s Society on their Dementia Friends programme. But we want to do more with partners who are needed to protect those who can be particularly vulnerable to harm from gambling and to strengthen the system of support for people who do experience harm. That’s why we will work with these and other community organisations to start building a network of support for those suffering with issues related to problem gambling in our communities.