Welcome to the first of our new look newsletters, designed to keep you up to date with the work of GambleAware, keeping people safe from gambling harms. This first edition of 2020 rounds up some of the work we are doing to support children and young people. We look back at the first year of our Bet Regret campaign, outline the services which are making support accessible 24-hours a day; and our Chief Executive Marc Etches, looks ahead to a year in which gambling is likely to stay high on the public agenda.

Marc's Introduction Note

Keeping people safe from gambling harms requires the application of a public health model that accounts for three aspects of prevention: universal promotion of a safer environment (primary); selective intervention for those who may be ‘at risk’ (secondary); and, direct support for those directly affected by gambling disorder (tertiary).

Guided by this public health model, GambleAware commissions prevention and treatment services on a national scale across three areas of activity: 

  • We work to prevent gambling harms by producing national health campaigns to build awareness and encourage behaviour change, and by providing support to frontline services and organisations to inform, to educate, and where appropriate, to deliver brief interventions; 
  • We commission the National Gambling Treatment Service that brings together the National Gambling Helpline and a network of providers across Britain, including the NHS, to deliver a range of treatment services; 
  • We seek to optimise knowledge and to provide thought leadership on prevention, addiction and treatment in gambling via an extensive research & evaluation programme. 

At the heart of our charitable purpose is an objective to help build sufficient resilience for children and young people to avoid gambling harms. Primarily, we do this by working in strategic partnership with expert organisations. 

In partnership with gambling treatment providers and advice and support organisations, GambleAware has spent several years methodically building structures for commissioning a coherent system of brief intervention and treatment services, with clearly defined care pathways and established referral routes to and from the NHS – leading to the development of the National Gambling Treatment Service, triaged via the National Gambling Helpline.  

The commitment by NHS England to open 15 specialist gambling clinics, including provision for children and young people, over the next five years is the clearest indication that the harms arising from gambling are beginning to achieve an equivalence in terms of public policy response to the harms arising from other risky behaviours 

GambleAware is identified as a key partner in the NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan, 2019-24 and our funding of the Northern Gambling Clinic in collaboration with the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is a demonstration of what can be achieved in a partnership between government, the statutory sector and the charitable sector with industry funding. 

The General Election saw something of a cross-party consensus about the need to address some big issues in relation to gambling. A new Conservative government has promised to review the Gambling Act 2005 to update it for the digital age including putting the voluntary levy on a statutory footing. Also, we can expect a new UK-wide addiction strategy, including gambling, under the remit of a new, dedicated monitoring unit at the heart of Government.  

The political response reflects public concern about the extent of gambling-related marketing, the impact of technology making gambling more easily accessible and the convergence of gambling and gaming. For GambleAware that means increasing our efforts in building the evidence base through rigorous research, producing resources and national campaigns to encourage behaviour change, and providing support to frontline services and organisations to inform, to educate, and where appropriate, to deliver brief interventions. We have recently published a briefing note which brings together information about all the work we are doing and the impact we have had – I urge you all to take a look here.

Safer Gambling Campaign

The largest ever safer gambling campaign Bet Regret has been running for almost a year, Director of Communications Zoe Osmond reviews the first year and looks at what's coming next.

Bet Regret, launched in February 2019 as part of a broader public health approach to prevent risky impulsive betting behaviours that can lead to gambling related harm.  The objective at this initial phase was to make people aware of the risks of gambling, increase awareness of the risks and provoke conversation on the moderation of sports betting.

Bet Regret describes the feeling of remorse sports bettors often get when they make an impulsive bet – the kind they say they will know they will kick themselves for the moment they’ve made it. 

Targeted at the estimated 2.4m young men aged 16-34 who gamble regularly on sport, mainly online, the campaign focuses on three key behaviours – betting when bored, drunk or chasing losses. Its aim is to make people aware of the risks of gambling impulsively. The campaign uses former England goalkeeper, David James, as a Safer Gambling Ambassador, encouraging people to avoid placing bets they haven’t thought through. 

The campaign is already having a positive impact in terms of driving home a safer gambling message. A tracking Study amongst 1,600 men aged 16-44 who gamble regularly has revealed that: 

  • Two thirds recognise the campaign with 77% awareness amongst those most at risk finding the messages relevant, credible and memorable 
  • Increasing numbers report that they are thinking more about their gambling and cutting down (+10%) and more bettors claim to be cutting down betting when drunk, bored or chasing losses. 
  • The use of David James as a Safer Gambling Ambassador has helped to promote the message with two thirds saying they are aware of the campaign. 

Work is underway to develop the campaign and provide bettors with techniques to moderate their betting behaviour. Three creative routes are in research all geared to encourage bettors to pause and reconsider before placing a bet, helping them to avoid Bet Regret. The next phase of the campaign will be on air from April.

In addition, GambleAware has partnered with the Football Supporters Association to work with fans and clubs to promote safer gambling, providing them with assets and information with the creation of a safer gambling digital hub on the FSA site whereby clubs and supporters can download campaign assets 


2019 has been a year of expanding access. We believe that people across the whole of Great Britain should be able to get help in the way and at a time that best suits them. With that in mind, there are new services opening and we have expanded our support for online and phone services which can provide support 24-hours a day under the umbrella of the National Gambling Treatment Service.

One of the biggest achievements in treatment this year was the launch of the NHS Northern Gambling Service in partnership with Leeds & York NHS Foundation Trust and GamCare, which opened in August 2019. A further clinic, funded by the NHS, opened in Sunderland in January 2020GambleAware is committed to expanding treatment services and to ensure that anyone who requires help can access it. 

The National Gambling Helpline, operated by GamCare and funded by GambleAware, became a 24 hour service in October 2019. The Helpline is the central way to access the National Gambling Treatment Service which provides free, confidential treatment and support for anyone experiencing gambling harms in England, Scotland and Wales

We are determined that those who have lived experience of gambling harms should be involved in all our activities. In the field of treatment, we commissioned GamCare and BetKnowMore to begin rolling out a programme to incorporate peer support in the National Gambling Treatment Service, and we commissioned Adfam to work with treatment providers to improve the support available to affected others. The first of our lived experience conferences took place in November, facilitated by Beacon Council and the NHS North West Alliance.  There will be more news about this development later in the year. 

Looking ahead, a new campaign for the National Gambling Treatment Service was lanched on February 1st to increase awareness of gambling treatment. The campaign which will run on digital, radio, motorway service stations and pubs alongside GP surgeries draws on research amongst people with gambling disorder that they felt disconnected from their friends and families. The work signposts people to the National Gambling Helpline and seeks to address the low level of treatment penetration which currently is estimated to be just 3%.

Our Annual Conference

The seventh annual GambleAware conference in December focused on keeping children and young people safe from gambling harm. Director of Education, Jane Rigbye, looks at some of the insights that emerged on the day, and shares some of the resources that GambleAware has produced to support those working with young people.

It’s clear that there is little room for complacency about gambling and young people.

Gambling Commission figures show that 4.4% of 11-to 16-year olds experience harm from gambling, including 1.7% identified as “problem gamblers”. That’s approximately 55,000 11-16-year olds in England, Scotland and Wales.

Speakers highlighted how, where and how often children and young people gamble today and the impact it has on them. Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones of the CNWL NHS Foundation Trust National Problem Gambling Clinic, Vicki Shotbolt, of ParentZone and Chris Martin of The Mix shared their experiences of working with those most affected. Their presentations are available here 

A significant role for GambleAware is to help relevant organisations to build resilience for children and young people so they can make informed choices about gambling. 

We work in partnership on research projects exploring influences on children and young people and develop resources for parents and educators. For example: 

  • GambleAware and Parent Zone have partnered to help families learn about the risks children face playing online games, and suggest how parents, carers and professionals can keep gaming safer and fun. The resources are on the Parent Zone website. We also collaborated on Know the Stakes, raising awareness of the potential harms gambling can cause to young people aged 15-18 as they become financially independent.  
  • GambleAware and the PSHE Association are creating lesson plans and other guides for teachers of Personal Social Health and Economic Education.  A new handbook for PHSE teachers was launched at the conference and can be downloaded free here. We will launch more resources later this Spring. 
  • ClearView Research launched Gambling: the young BAME perspective in September, alongside a factsheet, exploring the experiences, views and attitudes towards gambling in youth groups from BAME communities.
  • Fast Forward, who enable young people to make informed choices about their wellbeing, have launched a Gambling Education Hub with resources and information about youth gambling and gambling harms for practitioners who work with young people. They deliver training and support to practitioners across a variety of health and education services, particularly working with those in the informal education sector, the youth employability sector, secondary schools, organisations supporting parents and carers, and colleges and universities. Among its activities, the Hub operate the Scottish Gambling Education Network and coordinate a peer-based theatre tour (Trust Me) for secondary schools. 
  • There is more information about our resources here.