GamCare, the leading UK provider of free information, advice and support for anyone harmed by gambling, has identified the need to better educate students and their support networks on potential risks they may encounter during University life.
According to a recent survey from the Gambling Commission, young people are ‘the most susceptible to experiencing gambling harm after achieving independence from parents. Almost a quarter of student gamblers are at some degree of risk from gambling and ‘problem gamblers’ arise from the desire for ‘a quick, feel good fix’.
GamCare’s education and training lead for the South East and East of England, Matt Burgiss experienced gambling harm at university and now works with young people, providing support and help to the student community. Matt says: “At first, I signed up for online (gambling) accounts with a couple of different companies. It was just a couple of quid here and there and I thought I’d able to make a bit more money. I would still say I was gambling socially at this point, but it got heavier as I came towards the end of university.”
Matt’s experience of betting was heavily linked to the drinking culture associated with many university towns. His gambling exacerbated throughout his campus life to the point where he was losing large sums of money daily, and experienced related personal and health issues.
“I really feel it’s so important to focus on educating young people about the risks of gambling, and how quickly it can stop being fun if you’re not careful. Together with parents and professionals working with young people, we can give them the facts they need to make the best decisions for themselves, and we can work on changing opinions about gambling for the better. I also think it’s so important to share what I’ve been through – if one person hears my story and it resonates so they can make a positive change, it’s worth it. We can break down the stigma surrounding gambling problems.
Alexa Roseblade, Senior Programme Manager, at GamCare discusses why student gambling is rife during this transitional period: “During this time of transition many young people are entering environments where gambling can be the norm – but there’s a lack of knowledge on how to recognise gambling harm or know where to turn to for support. We know from our Young Person’s Gambling Harm Prevention programme that many young people view gambling as a way to make money, yet this belief can leave many empty-pocketed at key points in the university cycle.
There are many key drivers that contribute to this issue amongst students – having more time, personal independence and financial freedom with easy access to overdrafts and loans can encourage increased gambling behaviours. We launched BigDeal , a website to inform young people of the support on hand and importantly reassure them they are not alone.”
BigDeal is dedicated to young people and is part of GamCare. This autumn, it will be launch and work with a Young Adult Advisory Board to raise awareness of gambling-related harm with 18-25 year olds and inform them of the support available to them. More information can be found here.
Where to go for support:
GamCare operates the National Gambling Helpline, providing information, advice and support for anyone harmed by gambling. For support, contact our advisers are available 24/7 on 0808 8020 133 or via web chat.
You can also get a free Gamban licence through TalkBanStop and will be able talk to an adviser about the benefits of self-excluding with GAMSTOP.