The cost of living crisis in the UK is leading people to gamble, says GamCare

A survey run by GamCare has found that gamblers are gambling in a bid to win money to pay their bills or using betting shops to stay warm.

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GamCare Survey Results Releases

The charity GamCare said that while this was likely to worsen financial stresses, research has found that four in ten problem gamblers believed that it would improve their financial situation in the coming year.

The YouGov survey of 4,202 adults commissioned by the charity also found out that one in six people that are gambling at very harmful levels had also used a warm bank in the past 12 months, while half of the parents who are problem gamblers have gone without food or clean clothes to support their children.

The survey also found that January 2023 was the month with the highest-ever call volume, with advisers regularly hearing reports of how the rising cost of living was affecting their callers. This also comprised people who were spending considerable time in betting shops to stay warm as well as people on disability benefits and universal credit gambling in a bid to make extra money so they could pay off their bills.

The survey also discovered that problem gamblers were seven times more likely than the rest of the UK population to say they would gamble in the coming 12 months.

Kieren Smith, a recovering gambling addict, said that gambling always felt like a tempting solution when he was struggling to make ends meet. “The financial difficulties added another justification for gambling. It was out of desperation – I saw gambling as the only opportunity to provide a short-term financial fix, which is a very scary place to be. You’re almost running back to your abuser for help, but also it offers this amazing opportunity where one big win can sort it all out.”

This mindset, he said, had made it easier to keep chasing a big win rather than address the reality of debts and working on paying them back. “The danger is you become more and more isolated, more in debt. Ultimately you start to lose people and find yourself in a real state, and potentially suicidal.”

The most recent survey issued by the UK Gambling Commission has showcased that gambling levels have remained relatively steady in December 2022, though there have been significant increases in people buying national lottery tickets, including those at a modern risk of gambling harm.

This was also echoed in a study on gambling prevalence in Iceland, following the financial crash. It showed that lottery sales swelled, while other forms of gambling either declined or stayed steady.

Our responsible gambling page has tips on how to stop your habit turn into addiction.