Gambling Related Financial Harm
Gambling related financial harm (GRFH) can manifest in many ways and can impact not just the gambler but also their loved ones.
Year on year, around 70% of callers to the National Gambling Helpline, operated by GamCare, mention some level of gambling debt and/or financial hardship.
For someone struggling to control their gambling, they may borrow money or go without essentials to be able to gamble, they may access high cost credit, sometimes even stealing from their family or friends or committing fraud to fund their gambling. For loved ones who are linked to the gambler financially, the impacts are deeper than simply debt or financial hardship – trust can begin to break down and it can be hard to repair, with a knock-on effect to families and children in many cases.
A person affected by gambling harms may engage with many different organisations and services throughout their journey as a customer, and various sectors have responded to GRFH in their own ways. For example, some banks and building societies are now offering customers ‘gambling blocks’, which allow consumers to block gambling transactions via their banking accounts. Additionally, some debt advice services are offering specialist guidance for gambling-related debt, and gambling businesses are trialing different ways to identify and assess customer affordability, e.g. using postcode data to estimate household income. Others are looking at open banking as a solution.
In October 2019, GamCare brought together banks, debt advice organisations, gambling support services and the gambling industry to take a closer look at the issue of GRFH. Our programme is a cross-sector initiative to share knowledge, develop resources and enable organisations to help affected customers as early as possible, so that harms do not escalate. Our Advisory Group includes representatives from all four sectors, as well individuals with lived experience of gambling harms.
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Gambling Related Financial Harm Toolkit
Our Gambling Related Financial Harm Toolkit, launched in September 2020, is designed to offer improved outcomes for customers – giving businesses the tools to offer consistent, quality customer communications about gambling risks, and building trust so that issues can be addressed as early as possible.
These materials draw together best practice and are informed by the experiences of those who have been harmed by gambling, so that they can tangibly improve customer outcomes in future. These resources can help frontline staff in key industries provide effective, sensitive support to customers and ensure they receive the help they need.
We recognise that there is a lot of stigma attached to gambling problems and those affected often find it difficult to seek help. There is also a lack of awareness that free support is available for both the gambler and family members or friends who are impacted.
In this document we have summarised key messages which should underlie your communications with customers affected by gambling harms, as well as those at risk of harm.
The Self-Help toolkit lists four key tools to recommend to customers who want to control their gambling. The Glossary of Terms explains some of the commonly used terms across the gambling support industry.
It provides recommendations on the steps your organisation should take to proactively engage your customers and prevent gambling related financial harm.
The real-life stories you will find in this document show how vital opportunities to intervene and help customers can often be missed. Case studies from banks, lenders, gambling businesses and debt advice agencies show that many organisations are no longer ignoring gambling related financial harm and are looking for innovative ways to identify and help affected customers.
The document includes sector-specific lists for ‘markers of harm’ – indicators and behaviours that should trigger an intervention.
The following referral pathways flowcharts are one-page guidelines for your frontline staff to take them through an intervention with customers affected by GRFH.
They provide consistent referral pathways into gambling support and treatment and key information to give to your customers to ensure that interventions are effective.
These Referral Pathways have been specifically developed to address financial harm cause by gambling and aim to complement rather than replace any existing support processes you have in place.
Please use the version relevant to your sector:
- Financial services guidance (download)
- Debt advice and money guidance (download)
- Gambling industry guidance (download)
The GRFH landscape is rapidly changing with new research, support options and tools becoming more widely available. If your staff help customers affected by GRFH, it is important to plan training and learning so to continually improve staff knowledge about the subject.
This document provides a framework that your Learning and Development colleagues can follow, including a suggested implementation strategy and top-level guidance on what training content should cover.
For any queries regarding GRFH Toolkit, please contact Raminta Diliso [email protected]
We would like to thank many organisations and individuals who have supported this work and provided subject matter expertise. We are particularly grateful to the individuals who have lived experience of gambling harms who have shared their experiences as part of the development process to inform our work. Their insights have been instrumental in the development of this Toolkit.
The following organisations are part of our GRFH Advisory Group:
- Betknowmore UK
- The Betting and Gaming Council
- Citizens Advice
- HSBC UK
- Lloyds Banking Group
- The Money and Pensions Service
- Santander UK
- Sky Betting and Gaming
The following organisations contributed to this work through their expertise or provided case studies:
- Behavioural Insights Team
- London Mutual
- Money & Mental Health Policy Institute
- Personal Finance Research Centre
- UK Finance
Gambling Related Financial Harm Steering Group Recommendations
GamCare highlights the potential harm lootboxes and skins betting can have on young people – The Gambling Related Financial Harm Steering Group examined the growing relationship between the financial harms of online gambling and gaming with young people and looked at ways to address this.
GamCare joins forces with banks to address loopholes in gambling blocks – GamCare hosted a sector wide Gambling Related Financial Harm (GRFH) workshop, calling for a collaborative response to close payment loopholes. The GRFH steering group identified a number of ways in which gamblers who have excluded themselves from making payments to gambling operators can still deposit to online operators.