Christmas can be a difficult time for people who have experienced gambling harms. Ben, one of our Helpline night managers, raises some key issues frequently discussed on the Helpline during the festive period, and provides practical advice for addressing these.
Even if you don’t celebrate, the Christmas period can present unique challenges. Payday is earlier in December which leaves a longer period without pay in January, schedules change, and it might become more difficult to access some of the support or activities you rely on.
Here are some of the things that Ben suggests being mindful of over the festive period, as well as practical advice:
Many companies pay staff early at Christmas, which for someone who faces gambling harms can cause real problems. This is especially true as it means a longer time between the December and January paydays.
A common strategy you might already use is to set up a Direct Debit for bills on the day you are paid, to avoid money sitting in the bank. With an early payday, you might want to send this money to family or friends to look after until the Direct Debit goes out of your bank account. You can also set up bank gambling blocks or use GAMSTOP, which you can get for free through our TalkBanStop partnership.
Our Money Guidance Service also has helpful advice for managing your money.
With Christmas comes presents, and these may include new phones, tablets, or laptops. For many people who rely on Gamban blocking software to prevent their gambling, this removes the single biggest barrier.
If you use Gamban, it would be helpful to install it on your new devices straight out of the box. Equally, if you are buying a new device for someone with experience of gambling harms, pre-installing Gamban before presenting the gift is a way to provide support.
Scratch Cards and Cash
It’s not uncommon for people to gift scratch cards for Christmas, particularly to people who like or may have liked to gamble. Someone who has recently embarked on their recovery may not have told their extended family or friends about the gambling harms they have faced, and might find themselves receiving gifts that are challenging for them.
Cash can also be a common gift that presents challenges. A sudden influx of cash may open the door to the risks of returning to gambling and experiencing gambling harm.
In both cases, it can be helpful to ask people not to give these gifts beforehand. Gift cards, for instance, are a good substitute as there are limitations on how they can be used.
Christmas is also likely to cause financial and emotional pressures. Open, two-way conversations and discussing finances with the people in your life can be beneficial for trust and transparency, and for avoiding triggers.
Working with your loved ones to ease the financial and social pressures of Christmas may help reduce any triggers during the festive period. Alongside open communication with the people around you, our National Gambling Helpline is available for anyone who has faced gambling harms, and we offer a variety of self-help tools.
How can I get help and support?
Our National Gambling Helpline is staffed by trained Advisers, who offer free and confidential information, advice, and support for anyone affected by their own gambling or someone else’s gambling.
Our Helpline is available 24/7, 365 days a year, including over the Christmas period. Call us on Freephone 0808 8020 133 or talk to us through our live chat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or our moderated chatrooms and forum.
Our recovery toolkit also includes a number of self-help tools that might be useful over the festive period.
For more information on accessing Gamban’s blocking software and the GAMSTOP self-exclusion tool for free, visit TalkBanStop.