Raminta Diliso, Gambling Related Financial Harm, Project Lead, GamCare

A toolkit to help organisations tackle gambling related financial harm

9 October 2020

Here at GamCare, we recently launched our Gambling Related Financial Harm Toolkit, which aims to equip organisations working across the financial, debt and gambling sectors with information and tools to identify and help affected customers as early as possible. This includes offering consistent customer communications about gambling risks and referral pathways into gambling support and treatment.

The Toolkit also features real-life stories that show how vital opportunities to intervene and help customers are often missed, allowing gambling harms to continue undetected and often to escalate to a crisis point. Read on to find out more:

Gambling and debt are closely linked

Gambling-related financial harm (GRFH) can manifest in many ways. 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.

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.

The latest research by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute also shines the light on the ways that poor mental health can make it harder for people to stay in control of online gambling, which in turn can often lead to financial problems.

Cross-sector effort

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 are offering customers ‘gambling blocks’, which allow consumers to block gambling transactions via their banking accounts. 

GamCare’s Gambling Related Financial Harm programme is a cross-sector initiative to galvanise key sectors to work together to build knowledge and encourage consistent action to tackle GRFH. GamCare has spoken to many individuals with lived experience of gambling harms, in many cases leading to problem debt and mental health issues. The collective view of those interviewed directly through our GRFH programme is that interventions need to happen earlier, and all sectors have a role to play in helping to identify customers that may be experiencing financial difficulties caused by gambling.

The role of financial services

We are encouraged to see how the finance sector is responding to the issue and there are examples of banks and credit unions trialling a more proactive approach to help customers that may be experiencing money issues caused by gambling. For example, London Mutual Credit Union have told us they look out for excessive gambling on bank statements when assessing loan applications. Where gambling problems have  been identified, they explain why the loan application was declined and signpost members to specialist support.

Our GRFH Toolkit also shares learning from a recent Barclays pilot, where the bank identified customers who were showing signs of financial vulnerability relating to their gambling. The case study explains what help and support was offered to these customers, which included warm transfers into the National Gambling Helpline. For details about Barclays and London Mutual case studies, see here

GamCare’s Chief Executive, Anna Hemmings, will be joining Money and Mental Health’s conference, exploring how financial services firms can do more to tackle gambling-related harms, on 13th October to discuss our recommendations and how this Toolkit can help key sectors implement consistent communications on this topic for their customers. We are looking forward to the discussion about what more the finance sector can do to improve support for customers who struggle with gambling.