What is gambling?
Traditionally, gambling is an activity where someone risks money or belongings. There is an element of randomness or chance involved and the purpose is to win.
The traditional methods that usually come to mind are:
- Gaming: including card games, fruit machines, video-draw poker machines, slot machines, two-up and casino games such as baccarat and roulette.
- Betting: including horse and greyhound races, football accumulators, other sporting events and elections.
- Lotteries: including lotteries, instant scratch cards, raffles and bingo.
- Speculation: gambling on business, insurance or stock markets.
Technology makes it easier to gamble.
Access to gambling sites has never been easier. There are now hundreds of gambling companies that provide casino-style games and betting apps that can be downloaded onto the gambler’s devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops. They provide the convenience of making bets or gambling from wherever the person is, even if they are on the move, 24/7 days a week.
Gambling prevalence in the UK
Over half the population in the UK takes part in some form of gambling activity. For some people, this can be an enjoyable activity. For others, gambling can harm their physical and mental health, relationships, performance at work or study, get them into trouble with the law and leave them in serious debt and possible homelessness. Public Health England estimates that more than 400 suicides per year may be associated with problem gambling. Family, friends and work colleagues can be affected by problem gambling too.
Based on 2018 data and depending on which part of the country you live in, Public Health England estimates that about 1 in a 100 people in the UK can be considered as a problem gambler, and that a further 4 in a 100 people are classified as at-risk gamblers, meaning they may experience some level of negative consequences due to their gambling.
Is your gambling problematic?
Do you suspect that gambling is affecting your life? Wondering what signs you should be looking out for?
You can assess yourself using the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). The PGSI is a reliable and standardised measure of at-risk behaviour in problem gambling. It is based on research on the common signs and consequences of problematic gambling.
Want to find out if your gambling is problematic? Take our questionnaire and find out what your scores mean for you:
If you find you have a problem:
It can be difficult finding out you have a problem and it is natural that at first, you may feel upset or distressed.
The good news is that help and support are available. A free and confidential, specialist NHS treatment service is available through the West Midlands Gambling Harms Clinic, if you are registered with a GP in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, Telford and Wrekin, Shropshire, Birmingham, Solihull, Black Country, Coventry, Warwickshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
If you would like to discuss your options or you are not sure whether the Gambling Harms Clinic is the best way forward for you, contact your GP or another trusted professional who can help you find the right support.
You can find details for other forms of help and advice on gambling on the NHS website.
If you’re at risk due to gambling:
If you are worried about your gambling and want to cut down or stop your gambling altogether, then check out the self-help sections on this website.
There are 5 sections which you can work through in turn. They build on each other and can help you towards a more meaningful and fulfilling life that is free from gambling harms.
Take a look below!
View our other self-help resources
Understanding your gambling
This develops your understanding of how and why you gamble and the impact it has on you and the people close to you.
Taking control of your gambling
This helps you to manage high-risk situations and stabilise your gambling, here and now.
Giving up or cutting down on gambling isn’t easy. This section is about giving you the motivation to keep going and learn from setbacks or lapses.
Tools for change
Tools for change is about managing your internal triggers (urges), cognitions, and difficult emotional states. This will help you develop ways of managing your gambling over the long term.
Finally, this section offers ideas for relapse prevention and developing new connections and new lifestyles that are meaningful to you and don’t involve gambling.