People suggest how other institutions and services, including financial services, the criminal justice system, workplaces, and education in schools need to improve to prevent and address gambling harm. They want all the organisations and services to play their part.
Many people say that, to start with, it is easy to get overdrafts, loans, and credit cards from high street banks. This can be done online with often instant access to more money on credit to gamble with. They question why banks keep giving them credit when they can see their accounts are full of gambling transactions. As their finances and credit ratings deteriorate with their gambling, their applications for credit with the banks start to get declined. When applications are declined, banks have not said anything to them about their gambling. Spendings from joint accounts or mortgage transactions have not been questioned.
There’s also other things like the financial industry. In my day it was credit cards and companies could see what you were spending your money on but wouldn’t intervene. Banks, it’s worked in their favour as well for a long time. There’re different actors in this that could be helping. I know that some people find it invasive, but the damage that can be caused in a very short space of time with people that aren’t technically in their right mind, and I know that’s hard to prove. It’s really, really difficult.
People talk about how banks are often the first organisation to be aware that someone is experiencing gambling difficulties, as they have first-hand access to their financial records. They say banks benefited from their gambling as it meant they paid for credit. Instead, they should have been flagged as vulnerable consumers. People say that banks need to be doing more to protect customers from financial harm from gambling.
When I look back now, I sort of thought, “Well, why didn’t those credit card people phone me up or stop me?” Because if they looked at my record, it was completely clean. I paid off regularly every single month, and the most I ever did on my credit cards it was for shopping. So, you know, it was unusual activity even then. So, you know, it probably sounds bitter and complaining. But you know, these are things that in my recovery and obviously moving forward are the things that you think about. Why didn’t that happen? Why didn’t somebody stop me?
But the other major player in this game are the finance industries, the banks and the lending societies and those sorts of people who inevitably are the first people to see when somebody has a gambling problem or potentially has a gambling problem, they’re not obviously skilled to be able to state that. However, you know that they are tied, if you like, or restricted in what friction they can apply to the individuals other than when that individual wants a service from them. For example, a mortgage or a loan and that sort of thing. Where rather than challenge them saying, “Well we’ve looked at your last six months accounts and all these outgoings to Betfred and Bet365 etc etc. would suggest that you couldn’t maintain the payments with your current outgoings.” That should be the conversation. But the bottom line is at the moment they just say, “Computer says no”. So, you know, in other words, they’re just passing the buck.
The financial side of it could do more. I was taking money out my bank left, right, and centre. There should be alarm bells, they should ring a bit more, questions should be asked on that side of it. My certain bank at the time, going in and out of my account, and I never once had a call to say £50,000 with Bet365. I never had a call. There should be a lot more of that being looked at.
In regards to banks, I know that they’ve got the gambling blocks on the apps, but it only lasts for 48 hours. If you are putting a gambling block on your card, it should be for a lifetime, or it should be until the expiry date ends, or something like that. Because what’s the point of putting a block on for two days and then turning it off, and then two days later, you’re allowed to bet again? I understand that they’re trying to do something right, but it’s a very small thing, and it’s something that– If you’re going to do it, just do it right, I suppose.
I certainly want the banks to look a bit closer at how people spend their money because they can clearly see that if somebody’s on a low income is depositing a bit of a high percentage of their, you know, maybe over their disposable income, they just need to have a word and intervene. It’s difficult, but I think it’s necessary because they’ve got the overall view. If you know, if I have an account with William Hill, they don’t know how much I spend with Ladbrokes, Coral, Paddy Power, Sky Bet, whoever but the banks do. The banks can see this, so I think the banks could play a big part in that.
Bank employees need more training on how to recognise or act on unusual bank account activity, particularly when it comes to speaking to the person who is experiencing gambling difficulties.
Criminal justice system
People say there needs to be change in the way gambling is dealt with at all points in the criminal justice system. From police, through prosecution services, court, sentencing, probation services and prisons. As is the case for other addictions and mental ill health.
They feel that more training and education is needed to better support or provide information to those who have committed a gambling-related crime.
Like I say, for me, the most passionate thing is the criminal justice system. That is the thing we need to tap into and we need to get people more aware of it. I’ll still say this in 10 years’ time openly. For me, it’s all about the criminal justice system information and helping these people that have committed crime through an addiction that nobody understands or don’t want to understand. I think we need to get that word out there, what this addiction is about. That’s really important for me, for my recovery, and to give something back to an industry that’s done me so much harm.
People want to see screening for gambling difficulties in the criminal justice system, not just questions about alcohol, drugs, and tobacco use.
Some people say there needs to be an improvement in workplace policies for gambling. There are often workplace policies for drugs and alcohol, but gambling is typically neglected.
People want to see more training in the workplace so that co-workers can recognise signs of employees experiencing gambling harm, provide better support, and signpost to support services. This will benefit employers as it can help stop productivity lost due to gambling. It would also allow people to talk more openly about gambling harm.
People talk about how important it is to teach young people about gambling harms, because they did not receive information about the risks of gambling when they were at school.
Although information about gambling has recently been introduced into the school curriculum, some people feel that more training is needed for teachers who are unsure of how to present this information.
The key to recovery groups is that you’ve got to start when people are in the formative years because that’s when it starts. And, you know, that’s why it needs to – and now that it’s become part of the curriculum it’s great. But I’ve got relatives who are teachers, and they have no idea how to get that message across as part of the curriculum. So that needs to be focused on to stop the youngsters who illegally gambling under the age of 18 becoming, you know, being, as I see it, groomed to become the next problem gamblers.
Some emphasise the importance of people with lived experience going into schools to educate young people, as well as their parents, about the risks of gambling. They say that this would allow young people who are experiencing difficulties to more openly talk about gambling and not feel ashamed.