Why the language around problem gambling needs to change

Why the language around problem gambling needs to change

Thursday, September 15, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Head of Gambling Therapy Pedro Romero has called for a 'step change'

A problem gambling expert has told the industry that the stigma from gambling addiction needs to be removed. Speaking at last week’s WrB on social responsibility, Head of Gambling Therapy Pedro Romero said that it was time for a step change in how we approach the issues.

Whilst increasingly people with other addictions feel more able to open a dialogue about a drug or drink addiction for instance, this is not the case with gambling and those with such an issue overwhelmingly feel they must hide it away. This, of course, is both dangerous and destructive and Romero urged a change, suggesting that loaded terms such as ‘problem gambler’ themselves may need reevaluating.

Romero made his comments at last week’s WrB event at London’s OXO Tower during a panel moderated by Malcolm Bruce, Founder and Director of Gambling Integrity, and also included a expert line-up of Lee Willows, Founder and Chief Executive at YGAM, Simo Dragicevic, CEO of BetBuddy.

Romero gave a short introduction to an app that his company is launching to help at risk individuals and talked about its potential impact he said: “People are generally curious. It could lead to the realisation of a problem, and an increased awareness of the types of help available too.”

Lee Willows, whose company YGAM runs educational workshops in schools, colleges and universities, said: “The notion of avoidance needs to be shut down. Yes, absolutely we should be talking to young people about gambling and the risks it brings with it.”

Off the back of this Malcolm Bruce asked whether we are doing enough to educate people in general?  Willows responded that education is just one of many tools we have to hand, and that raising awareness is vital too. Romero made an insightful point about mental health: “The connection between problem gambling and mental health needs more investigation and focus.”

He added that this in turn could lead to a wider, and deeper, positive societal impact. He stated that as well as education, the sharing of data makes alleviating problems such as this far easier and that the industry must get better at doing so. Bruce went on to push on the ‘young people at risk’ topic to which Dragicevic responded that they are undoubtedly the most at risk. He said that the data is evidence for this and that whilst intervention and interaction needed to be subtle with such an age group, the 18-24 category is the most at risk and so should be a point of focus for help.

The panel was brought to a close with some questions from the audience and the major issue of skins betting, which could easily have its own panel or two, was raised. Romero stated that it is his view that “prohibition is not the answer, regulation is.”

Totally Gaming Says: The inability to talk openly about a problem gambling issue is no doubt one that hampers diagnosis of a problem in the first place, let alone dealing with it on an ongoing basis. As soon as the stigma attached to having a gambling problem is somehow reduced or removed, then the better for all parties.

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