Gaming websites and apps have made it easier than ever to bet anywhere, any time. And while the overwhelming majority of gamers enjoy their hobby trouble-free, for a significant minority, gambling can end up having a serious negative impact on their life.
Unfortunately, the issues are not just limited to the financial consequences of problem gambling – the emotional toll and impact on family life and personal relationships are also often marked.
In the minority worst-case scenarios, problem gambling can be a factor behind depression or anxiety, disrupted sleep, mood swings and extreme emotions.
GamCare is a UK leading charitable organisation aimed at preventing and treating problem gambling across the country. It acknowledges the importance of understanding the potential risks of gambling, however small, and of being able to access timely advice and support.
In November 2017, it secured funding from GambleAware, the independent charity which funds research, education and treatment to help reduce gambling-related harm. This means that GamCare can continue to provide services free of charge and run the National Gambling Helpline, until March 2021.
What GamCare does
GamCare offers problem gamblers, or those who think they may have an issue, a number of services, which are also open to those who may be concerned about someone else’s gambling, and professionals. Services include:
- The free-to-call National Gambling Helpline
- The chance to chat to advisers via its NetLine
- Free face-to-face counselling
- Daily chatrooms and an online forum
GamCare also provides training related to gambling for individuals and groups, covering awareness, social responsibility, advice/intervention and identification of problem gambling.
Clients include universities plus those working within the criminal justice system, and training can be completed online. Alternatively, bespoke sessions can also be organised.
Who GamCare helps
- Professionals working in healthcare, perhaps as nurses, counsellors, GPs or psychiatrists, who have a patient or client with a gambling-related issue. Equally, support and advice is offered to youth and social workers, probation officers, those working in mental health and financial advisers.
- Problem gamblers: Non-judgemental support and advice, whether you want to limit your access to betting, talk to someone about your gambling or need advice with debt or other financial issues. GamCare helps those who are unsure whether or not their gaming is problematic, with a self-assessment tool, alongside advice on other agencies which may be able to help.
- Family, friends and partners: Advice and treatment are on offer to anyone affected by someone else’s gambling behaviour, even if that person isn’t yet ready to help for themselves. There are various ways of talking to someone who can help, including a web-based forum for family and friends and support groups, alongside signposting to other services. So you don’t have to be the person gambling to benefit from GamCare’s help.
In addition, GamCare actively works with the gaming industry on issues around player protection.
Chatrooms and online forum
Chatrooms are open daily, and the GamCare team moderates them.
Members of the gambling community help each other with live chat, in an environment that’s safe and supportive.
Whether you’re celebrating a milestone in your recovery, or have had a tough day and just need someone to talk to, the chatroom can offer guidance and hope. The times of day it’s open are advertised on the organisation’s website.
Even those who’ve ‘turned a corner’ and no longer consider that they have a problem may benefit from occasional reassurance.
Alternatively, the GamCare forum, again moderated in-house by the team, but more user-led, allows people to share their thoughts with each other. Read what others have said, or post a comment or question yourself.
Working with Sustainable Interaction, GamCare has developed a self-assessment tool, comprising 16 statements about gambling, to give you a better idea of the impact gaming is having on your life.
Other self-help resources to help gamers change their relationship with gambling include workbooks, a gambling diary, a stress checklist and a SMART goal planner.
You can also use the website for advice on how to limit your access to gambling, either by excluding yourself from places like casinos, arcades and betting shops or using blocking software to prevent you from using gambling websites.
Finally, use GamCare for advice on managing your finances and getting and staying out of debt.
Call free on 0808 8020 133 or chat online with a trained advisor who can listen and help. You may well find this an important first step to recovery.