Tackling Gambling Stigma

Sharing real life experiences of gambling harm to tackle stigma and discrimination.

Tackling Gambling Stigma was set up with one aim in mind: to reduce the stigma and discrimination related to gambling harm. We exist to support the removal of shame and to aid the recovery of those affected and bring about change to prevent harm in the future.

We want to do this by sharing the real-life stories of those with lived experience and experts by experience (EbEs), bringing this together using our specialised research tools.

The research we do is through discussions with people who have experienced gambling. People with lived experience are helping us shape the project as we go. We are part of a network of initiatives that are all trying to improve the way the UK deals with harm from gambling.

Despite 5 million British people experiencing harm linked to gambling, the subject is often stigmatised by society. This view leads to a deep sense of shame and self-blame which can often make problems worse. People affected by gambling harm tell us that being made to feel shame can often stop them from reaching out for help, or even drive them to gamble more in order to deal with the stress. The stigma surrounding gambling is often given as one of the biggest barriers to recovery.

The shame and stigma are made worse by the narrative used by the gambling industry and others. This language used often places the responsibility for harm on the individuals with addictions, leaving people to feel that they are entirely to blame. The role of the gambling sector in contributing to addiction and causing harm is hidden.

Stereotypes and lack of understanding in the public and the representation of gambling harm in the media and popular culture creates a disconnect from peoples’ real experiences. This, in turn, changes how policymakers and the public perceive them.

This has been shown to impact negatively on the way gambling is dealt with in regulation, financial services, health and in the justice system, among others, when compared to other consumer and mental health issues.

Millions of people each year experience gambling-related harm. Our aim is to help these people feel connected, informed and less alone in what they are going through, and to bring about change to stop harm in the future.

Who are we trying to reach?


People with experience of stigma and discrimination from gambling harm

The general public

Professionals, such as service providers, GPs, policymakers and researchers.


The groups who will benefit most from our work are those who are personally experiencing gambling harm, either as an affected other or through their own gambling. We want them to reach out for effective support and feel no shame in doing so.

Our research is also designed to enlighten the public on how gambling can negatively impact on peoples’ lives, how people are drawn into addiction and the types of people who can be affected, in an attempt to remove the current stigmas attached.

Our research will also be brought to professionals and policymakers moving forwards, to help inform better policy, treatment and support.

The Project

Tackling Gambling Stigma will document real, lived experiences. The people whose stories we tell will vary socially, culturally and economically. They will have different backgrounds and have come to gambling or experienced gambling harms for different reasons. Our intention is to look at what is the same, despite these people’s differences and create a critical mass of voices that demonstrates a need for change.

Our website will host these stories and links to other support and help.

By seeing real people struggling with gambling addiction, treated with the empathy and understanding currently lacking in policy and the media, we will create a safe space for those who experience harm from gambling. By knowing that they are not alone and seeing others with the same or similar experiences, they are able to feel connected and, if need be, start on the pathway to more support.

The people who share their experiences will be in control of their contribution and how it gets uses. It will be up to those who take part whether they remain anonymous and in what form their experience is shared. This will create an online space where people can come to learn about what it is like to live with gambling harms by reading, listening or watching people share real-life experiences.

The project is working closely with existing EbE networks and contribute to supporting those affected through research and advocacy. We aim to bring together and communicate the range of lived experiences of gambling harm.

We have four main aims:

1. Collaborate with existing EbE networks and bring together lived experience and research to highlight the realities of gambling harm.

2. Support the removal of self-stigma and aid in recovery for people with lived experience.

3. Destigmatise and change the understanding of the general public.

4. As a tool for professionals to gain insight,  and change what they do based on people’s lived experience, including the media, service providers, policymakers and researchers.

We use the term EbE to refer to those who have taken on a public role in some way, contributing their knowledge from experience like someone who has expertise from their profession.

We are using lived experience for anyone personally affected by gambling harm. This could be a family member, colleague or friend and allows us to consider the experiences of a much wider group than purely those living with a gambling addiction.

We are working collaboratively with other initiatives and EbE groups in order to recruit people to take part and promote the use of the website. Those who do take part have the option to become more involved as EbEs.

This a temporary website for us to communicate about the project as it develops and invite people to take part. The new, comprehensive website is due in 2022.

The project is using best practice in research ethics, including informed consent, copyright permissions and safeguarding, all of which will be freely available on the website.

The project has an advisory network, including EbEs and experts by profession.


The planned launch date for the new website is summer 2022, and we will continue to develop and add to it in the following year, and for what we hope will be many more years.

We are looking forward to sharing more with you as the project develops would love to hear from you should you wish to take part or ask us any questions.

Copyright © 2022 Tackling Gambling Stigma.