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  • Loot box gambling

    What are “skins” and “loot boxes?” Understanding loot box gambling requires an explanation of skins, a concept found in many multiplayer video games. Many games contain “skins”, aesthetically different versions of in-game items. These are most common in online multiplayer games, as rare items can be seen by other people playing the game. They can be costumes for a character to wear, weaponry which has a particular visual style, or effects that follow a character such as patterns or colours. These “skins” vary in terms of appeal both between and within games, with some items being particularly appealing to young people, such as brightly coloured guns, unicorn costumes or golden frying pans. Skins may be given to the player for completing a certain part of the game, or “unlocked” from loot boxes. Loot boxes, also known as loot crates, are items that result in a random chance of gaining a certain item from a range of available skins, with rare skins and items having low odds of being “contained” in the box. “Keys” for these loot boxes may be unlocked through play of the game, success, or commonly through purchase of keys with real currency. The items within them may be common, and have little real world value, or rare, with a high value (what we may consider a “win”). The purchase of loot box keys is not directly through real world currency in most cases, as real money must first be turned into in-game currency, and then further into keys for the boxes, before it can be used to open the box. Differences in currency values further obfuscate the true cost of the purchase. Who is playing loot box games? Many of those who play games with loot boxes are young people. The targeting of young people and children for in-app purchases and microtransactions is well-documented, and occurs in many games, particularly mobile games. Loot box or loot box-like mechanics occur in games which are particularly designed to appeal to children and young people, and which utilise popular characters and bright colours to do so. A notable example which is currently culturally relevant is Pokemon: Unite. In games which do not have particular appeal to children, there is often still a large teen or underage player base – for example, many of the people involved in the Counterstrike: Global Offensive community are underage – in one study, of 255 respondents, 46.2% of players said that they played CS:GO and were underage. [1] This, along with the ability to easily bypass age restrictions or a lack of age restrictions at all, means that many young people engage in loot box opening. Dangers of loot box gambling Many of the rarer items which may be acquired from loot boxes have high trade value, being sold on third-party trading sites for thousands of pounds. This kind of money may be especially appealing to a young person, as trading items online can be a rare source of income for a young person who may not be able to find work. Sometimes, in games such as FIFA, the unlockable items confer advantages to playing the game and are not simply cosmetic, offering another incentive to own more of them. This means that loot box opening is psychologically and operationally very similar to gambling, and has been considered as such in some of the literature surrounding it.[2] This gambling exposure has many worrying hallmarks and can have a devastating effect on players, particularly vulnerable youth players. Links have been found with gambling exposure as a youth, and gambling problems as an adult. The constant arousal associated with gambling activities leads participants in loot box gambling to require the same levels of stimulation more frequently, leading to a disordered and excessive pattern of use. Most video games analysed in one study showed most of the characteristics of gambling, and almost half of them fulfilled all criteria In one study of gamers aged 18 and over, [3] there was a strong link between loot box spending and severity of their problem gambling. This link was stronger than other common risk factors for problem gambling, such as drug abuse. In another study of 618 gamers, two thirds of those who gambled had spent money on loot boxes in the past year, and that loot box purchasing was directly related to increased problem gaming and problem gambling. [4] There is an active social network of peers which provides social incentive to gamble on loot boxes, an integration of social media channels, and the use of unrestricted purchase limits and microtransactions. Microtransactions are a particularly concerning area of gambling risk – as each purchase of a loot box is low-cost, it encourages more and more bets, and there is often no way to track how much a person has spent on loot boxes without going through several different purchase records. There are no options for self-exclusion for a player who is experiencing addiction to loot box gambling, and a player may spend far more than they are aware of. [5] Additionally, gamers who spend money on in-game purchases, spend more total money on games than those who do not. This is contrary to the idea that since many games which utilise loot boxes and microtransactions are free-to-play, there will be a balancing between the two factors. [6] Legislation surrounding loot box gambling Loot boxes lie in a grey area legally, as spending of real-world currency on the boxes is not technically “necessary” as keys can be obtained via play, and therefore the gambling is “simulated.” As the prizes are virtual, they are sometimes considered to have no value, despite the trading of items which occurs on third party sites. Another reason that loot boxes are not regulated is the assertion that no player makes a loss – they are guaranteed to contain one item, and it simply differs in rarity. However, according to studies which analysed Steam Marketplace purchases and sales of loot box items, around 93% of sales of items acquired from loot boxes recouped less than purchase price, and a rare few items accumulate immense value due to the demand. The most expensive item to ever sell in Team Fortress 2’s online trading platform, a Burning Flame Team Captain (hat), sold for approximately $14k. Players can cash out their items through third-party sites which facilitate conversion of these items, or profits from their sales, into real-world currency. The market has gone and remains unregulated in many places. The growing gap between regulation of the digital space and the activities which occur in it is visible when we see politicians and legislators state that digital items do not hold real value. This not only poses risks to young people who are engaging in gambling activities for the first time, but presents people affected by gambling harm to a novel and unregulated system which closely approximates gambling. However, there is an increased understanding of loot box gaming as something that can cause harm . in 2018, Belgium ruled that randomised loot boxes constituted illegal gambling, which means that several aspects of games are not available in the country. Some games, such as Fortnite, have removed their loot box aspect in all countries due to class-action lawsuits and campaigning to remove them; with Fortnite repaying in-store credit to anyone who had purchased their loot box-like mechanic and settling further cases with anyone who stated they had experienced harm. We believe there is a need for further review of loot box practices and the way they are implemented in video games, especially those which may have particular appeal to children, such as Pokemon Unite. Responsible gambling practices should be implemented, such as displaying the chances for each item to be acquired individually, implementing self-exclusion strategies, and allowing gamers to check how much they have spent on their gambling. [1]Beneš M. UNDERAGE GAMBLING IN COMPUTER GAMES. Proceedings New trends and research challenges in pedagogy and andragogy NTRCPA18. 2018:81. [2]Zendle D, Bowden-Jones H. Loot boxes and the convergence of video games and gambling. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2019 Sep 1;6(9):724-5. [3]Zendle, D. and Cairns, P., 2018. Video game loot boxes are linked to problem gambling: Results of a large-scale survey. PloS one, 13(11), p.e0206767. [4]Li, W., Mills, D. and Nower, L., 2019. The relationship of loot box purchases to problem video gaming and problem gambling. Addictive behaviors, 97, pp.27-34. [5]King, D.L. and Delfabbro, P.H., 2016. Early exposure to digital simulated gambling: A review and conceptual model. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, pp.198-206. [6]Drummond, A., Sauer, J.D., Hall, L.C., Zendle, D. and Loudon, M.R., 2020. Why loot boxes could be regulated as gambling. Nature Human Behaviour, 4(10), pp.986-988.

  • Simulated gambling in video games

    The convergence of gaming and gambling presents unique challenges for young people. The digital age means gambling is thriving, as technology can manifest in new ways with new intersections between gambling platforms and other digital media technologies. [1] What is simulated gambling? Simulated gambling is a common feature of many video games and involves an “interactive gambling activity which does not directly involve monetary gain but is otherwise structurally identical to a standard format of a gambling activity due to its wagering features and chance-determined outcomes of play”. [2] In short, the player experience is fundamentally the same as a real gambling application, except without real money being bet. In many mainstream video games, there are gambling elements, often in the style of in-game casinos one can visit. This has occurred in games across genres, including Grand Theft Auto, Fallout:New Vegas and even Pokémon. While not all representations of in-game gambling are purely positive, with more notable criticisms of casinos and gambling in some video games, such as Red Dead Redemption 2 exploring the consequences of gambling addiction on non-player characters, the game mechanics in these games where the player gambles are still designed to be “fun” for the player. To make these games of chance in otherwise skill-based games appealing, they may employ game mechanics such as a “Luck” statistic, or a minigame in which you must correctly time a button press, which can misrepresent real gambling as more skill-based than it really is. Often, the odds of winning a bet or a game in a video game are much higher than in real-life casinos or on gambling applications, which can skew player perception of gambling. In addition, in these games, players can save before each wager, and reset if they lose. Though not all representations of gambling in video games are equally addictive or positive for the player, all have the potential to cause a development in interest in gambling. Simulated gambling in video games extends to a whole genre of dedicated casino-style games, which involve no real-life transactions, but offer a similar experience to online casinos which do involve gambling. These include “free-to-play” online casinos. These simulated gambling apps are often hosted and advertised on social media, which plays into the exposure effect and social response aspect of gambling – people are more likely to engage if their peers are also involved. [3] According to Gambling Commission 2019 data using a sample of 2943 young people, 12% of 11-16 year olds have said they had played an online gambling-style game, almost half of which did so through an app. [4] These apps may be made by the same developers and owned by the same companies which develop real-money gambling applications, and indeed, the two may be one of the same, via the use of “demo modes”, a free “demonstration” of a gambling application which uses real money. Demo modes for online casinos are also a major form of youth gambling. In the same survey, 29% of young people who had gambled said they had previously used demo modes of online casinos. [5] Age checks are often not in place in online casino apps, and if they are, children may use their parent’s accounts or other methods to bypass the age restriction. Effects of simulated gambling According to research, simulated gambling exposure may be more likely to have negative consequences for youth gambling when different criteria are met. [6] Among other factors, if a simulated gambling application or game facilitates entry into a gambling subculture, providing social incentives to gamble, and encouraging covert gambling, the exposure is more likely to be considered harmful. Additionally, if the player experiences early wins, is enabled to engage in intense playstyles, and has misconceptions and false beliefs about the nature of gambling odds and skill levels, this is also harmful exposure. Simulated gambling may be beneficial as a part of gambling education if the player experiences normal win-loss outcomes and it is modelled as an educational experience with minimal extrinsic feedback. Based on these criteria, there are different levels of harmful exposure in video games; and the worst offenders are the dedicated casino-style gambling applications, which often exhibit skewed outcomes that favour the player and are designed to encourage players to keep playing in order to make money, either because they rely on making money through advertising or because they are closely linked to true gambling applications. Though the simulated gambling in more mainstream video games meets less of these criteria, and there are opportunities for gambling experiences to be more educational in these regards, we believe that exposure in some video games may have an overall negative effect. According to the ESRB‘s (Entertainment Software Rating Board) criteria, simulated gambling mechanics are considered appropriate for players aged 13 and up. We believe that this is unsatisfactory, as the links between simulated gambling and gambling behaviours with real money should not be downplayed. Gambling in real life situations has a much higher age limit, and exposure of adolescents, especially in situations where they feel compelled to gamble in these simulated environments, is likely to result in later issues for some people. [7] For more information on gambling in video games and its effects, please read our pieces on loot boxes and on online skin betting. [1]King D, Delfabbro P, Griffiths M. The convergence of gambling and digital media: Implications for gambling in young people. Journal of Gambling Studies. 2010 Jun 1;26(2):175-87. [2]King, D.L., Delfabbro, P.H., Kaptsis, D. and Zwaans, T., 2014. Adolescent simulated gambling via digital and social media: An emerging problem. Computers in Human Behavior, 31, pp.305-313. [3]Armstrong, T., Rockloff, M., Browne, M. and Li, E., 2018. An exploration of how simulated gambling games may promote gambling with money. Journal of Gambling Studies, 34(4), pp.1165-1184. [4]Young People Gambling Report 2019 (cliftondavies.com) [5]Wood RT, Griffiths MD. A qualitative investigation of problem gambling as an escape‐based coping strategy. Psychology and Psychotherapy: theory, research and practice. 2007 Mar;80(1):107-25. [6]King, D.L. and Delfabbro, P.H., 2016. Early exposure to digital simulated gambling: A review and conceptual model. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, pp.198-206. [7]Kushner, M., Thurus, P., Sletten, S., Frye, B., Abrams, K., Adson, D., Van Demark, J., Maurer, E. and Donahue, C., 2008. Urge to gamble in a simulated gambling environment. Journal of Gambling Studies, 24(2), pp.219-227.

  • Fairfield Church.

    Pupils at Fairfield Church were the beneficiaries of the 'Preventing Gambling Harm in Diverse Communities' initiative on Wednesday 20th April 2022. A small but engaging workshop where another 11 students learnt about gambling harm. Jack Baker, the organiser of the delivery, was delighted to get Gambling Harm UK in to teach the attendees about gambling harm, and we were excited to do so. It is essential to bring this message across to places of worship, and we took a step in doing so today. Thank you, Fairfield Church, for having us.

  • Park Academy West London.

    On the Monday 21st March 2022, I was humbled to deliver the 'Preventing Gambling Harm in Diverse Communities' initiative to Park Academy West London, a partner school of a previous workshop we had completed to River Academy West London. River Academy West London welcomed me with open arms, and the reception was matched from Park Academy West London. I was delighted to deliver our project to just over 390 students on the day ranging from the years 9-11. A lot was learnt on both sides, I was asked engaging and thoughtful questions, and I hope I provided the children with enough information to impact their lives. Thank you to each attendee, your efforts to grasp vital knowledge on this subject were appreciated.

  • Bishop Ramsey Church of England School.

    Our long-awaited delivery to Bishop Ramsey Church of England School was successfully completed on Friday 4th March 2022. Dani Williams who organised the programme and delivery of the 'Preventing Gambling Harm in Diverse Communities' initiative, was one of our earliest bookings. When we were new to this area, I was thrilled to find that Dani was willing to learn more about gambling harm, and she showed a keen interest in enlightening students at the school she teaches. This allowed us to arrange this school booking six months in advance. Despite some technical difficulties on the day, each of the 150 students took away vital solutions to preventing gambling harm and gained in-depth knowledge on the subject. I was pleased to be at the forefront of this, and I hope to have a more significant impact on the rest of the school. Thank you, Bishop Ramsey, for believing in Gambling Harm UK and our work.

  • Aldenham School.

    On Monday 21st February 2022, Joshua Palmer and Ben Jones from Red Card were welcomed by Aldenham School in Borehamwood. We were invited to speak to pupils from the school years of Year 7 through to Year 13 by Jos Perris, the Reverend of the Chapel attached to the school to deliver the 'Preventing Gambling Harm in Diverse Communities' programme. A wonderful, with thought-provoking questions, attentive students, and engaged teachers, which saw us deliver to just under 680 students. Thank you, Aldenham School, for your support in our programme, for recognising the significance of gambling harm on young people and allowing us to come in to deliver our free specialist workshops to the students.

  • Gambling Company Director Remunerations vs Funding for Research, Education, and Treatment (RET)

    In this article, we illustrate two issues with the funding for efforts to prevent, research, and treat gambling harm. 1) Chronic underfunding of RET 2) Issues with the distribution of RET funding Gambling operator director remunerations vs RET funding From 2016 to 2020, the total director remunerations across ten top gambling companies were £2.19 billion. Bet365 makes up a considerable amount of this, with £1.91 billion in key management personnel remunerations. In comparison, totalled, all other companies’ remunerations were £278 million. In contrast, total funding for gambling harm research, education, and treatment received £77.19 million between 2016 and 2020. Total funding for gambling harm RET equates to 3.5% of the spending on director remunerations for ten top gambling companies. Focusing solely on 2020 alone, total remunerations across the ten companies were £654 million. Again, Bet365 makes up a significant amount with £607 million in key management personnel remunerations with all other companies’ remunerations together standing at £46.4 million. In contrast, funding given to gambling harm research, education, and treatment totalled £27.3 million in 2020 (4.2% compared to the remunerations). Figure 1. A comparison of remunerations of gambling operators and RET funding between 2016 and 2020. Note: Our figures reflect on ten of the top leading gambling companies: Bet365, Camelot Group, Entain (Coral, Ladbrokes), Flutter Entertainment (Paddy Power, Betfair), Gamesys, Kindred Group (Unibet, 32Red), Rank Group, Playtech, William Hill and 888. Remunerations include the base salary and all other forms of financial compensation (e.g., bonuses) paid to directors or key management personnel. Statistics were calculated from Companies House (1), the Gambling Commission (4, 5) and the Charity Commission (6). Funding for charities can be received in two different ways: Gambling operators must donate an annual financial contribution (RET contribution) to a charity that focuses on research, education and treatment of gambling harm, as a condition of holding a Gambling Commission Licence. No amount is specified in the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (2). Funding from regulatory settlements. A payment to a charity that addresses gambling-related harm can be made as part of a settlement with the Gambling Commission when regulatory action is taken against a gambling operator. The gambling operator cannot receive positive publicity, and the money needs to be separate from RET contributions and should be given for socially responsible purposes (3). Distribution of funding In 2020, charities received £27.26 million, with £17.57 million in RET contributions from industry and £9.68 million in regulatory settlements. In 2021, charities received £60.46 million, with £37.05 million in RET contributions from industry and £23.41 million in regulatory settlements. Funding for charities has increased, comparing 2020 to 2021. However, the distribution is uneven across organisations. In 2020, GambleAware’s income was £16.88 million, with £15.59 million in donations from industry and £1.29 million in regulatory settlements. In comparison, the total from other RET organisations was £10.38 million, with £1.99 million in RET donations from industry and £8.39 million in regulatory settlements. Funding has started to be given over a broader range of charities during 2021. However, GambleAware still receives the majority of the income with £33.63 million; of which £24.83 million is from voluntary donations from the gambling industry and £8.8 million in regulatory settlements. In comparison, in 2021, £26.83 million was given towards all other RET efforts with £12.22 million in voluntary donations from the gambling industry and £14.61 million in regulatory settlements. Figure 2. Voluntary RET Donations between 2016 to 2021. Note: RET contributions shown of organisations which have been published by the Gambling Commission with additional analysis conducted for GambleAware, GamCare, YGAM, and Gambling with Lives using the Charity Commission service. Organisations shown include Action Against Gambling Harms, ARA, Betblocker, Bet Know More, EPIC Risk Management, Gambling with Lives, GambleAware, GamCare, Gordon Moody Association, Leon House Health and Wellbeing, Red Card Gambling, Sport in Mind and YGAM. Statistics were calculated from the Gambling Commission (4) and annual returns from the Charity Commission (6). May include public donations for YGAM and GamCare as it was not possible to separate. Figure 3. Regulatory settlements between 2018 to 2021. Note: Regulatory settlements, including part-funded projects. Statistics were calculated from the Gambling Commission (5) and annual returns from the Charity Commission (6). Figure 4. Overall Income (Voluntary RET donations and Regulatory Settlements) between 2016 and 2021. Conclusion The comparison between remunerations and RET funding reflects a chronic issue of insufficient funding and illustrates industry priorities towards profits over meaningful harm reduction. The voluntary system does not help organisations develop effective long-term strategic planning to reduce harms created by gambling, due to the uncertainty and lack of consistency over funding (7). “Increases in funding first promised by five of the largest gambling operators nearly one year ago have yet to materialise, and industry has now demonstrated its ability and willingness to change the direction of funding at short notice” - Wardle et al., 2020 (7). This demonstrates the unstable environment and is further shown by the gambling commission review into RET arrangements in 2018, where the industry had “consistently failed to meet GambleAware’s modest funding aspiration (0.1% of GGY), by a significant margin” (8) and that “there is a strong case for implementing a statutory levy if the industry cannot provide what is needed voluntarily” (8). Another issue caused by the voluntary RET contributions is the uneven funding distribution. Most donations go to GambleAware, rather than across a range of charities, and focus on treatment rather than prevention (7). “The task was hopeless, as the industry worked to undermine all the evidence and deny their responsibility, blocking use of their funding for education and research into how gambling causes addiction” - Robin Burgess, Former CEO of the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, 2021 (9). Researchers have reflected that unilateral decision-making in funding allocations is one way the industry exerts influence (7). To counteract this, researchers are calling for the primary aim of the new government white paper to focus on the prevention of harm (10). The gambling commission stated in 2018 that there should be “Demonstrable independence and rigour of the research process” (8); this has not been achieved due to the industry's influence in the voluntary system. Researchers and health experts have stressed their concerns to decision-makers and highlighted the need for a levy that funds prevention and treatment free from real or perceived industry influence. (7, 10, 11). New Zealand has a statutory levy (12). Independent funding for research and treatment should be under the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS (10) or by an organisation such as UK Research and Innovation (7). This would follow the NHS, which has announced they are cutting ties with voluntary funding from the Gambling Industry via GambleAware (13, 14). Overall, with the approaching gambling act review, the government should recognise gambling harm as a significant public health issue, like smoking, and that it needs similar funding (9). Public health experts are calling for three criteria that need to be met by the government, 1) The scale of gambling harm to be recognised with due attention given to affected others. 2) The gambling industry should not be involved in how to prevent gambling harm, as it is a conflict of interest. 3) The legislation should assume a precautionary principle; lack of definitive evidence cannot be a licence for inaction(11). References 1) Companies House. Available from: https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk 2) LCCP 3.1.1 Combating problem gambling. Available from: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/licensees-and-businesses/lccp/condition/3-1-1-combating-problem-gambling 3) Payments in lieu of financial penalties 2.14. Available from: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/policy/statement-of-principles-for-determining-financial-penalties/statement-of-principles-for-determining-financial-penalties-applicable 4) LCCP RET contributions data – January 2020 to March 2021. Available from: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/licensees-and-businesses/guide/list-of-organisations-for-operator-contributions#lccp-ret-contributions-data-january-2020-to-march-2021 5) Information about destinations of regulatory settlements to be applied for socially responsible purposes. Available from: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/licensees-and-businesses/page/regulatory-settlements-applied-for-socially-responsible-purposes 6) Charity Commission Register. Available from: https://register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk 7) Wardle H, Banks J, Bebbington P, Blank L, Bowden Jones OBE H, Bramley S et al. Open letter from UK based academic scientists to the secretaries of state for digital, culture, media and sport and for health and social care regarding the need for independent funding for the prevention and treatment of gambling harms. BMJ 2020; 370:m2613. Available from: DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2613 8) Gambling Commission. Reviewing the research, education and treatment (RET) arrangements. 2018. Available from: https://consult.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/author/copy-of-national-strategy-to-reduce-gambling-harms/user_uploads/review-of-ret-arrangements-february-2018.pdf 9) R Burgess. Gambling firms will never take responsibility for addiction. The Guardian. 13 April 2021. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/apr/13/gambling-firms-will-never-take-responsibility-for-addiction 10) M Gaskell. Gambling addiction treatment should be led by health experts. The Times. 2 February 2022. Available from: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/gambling-addiction-treatment-should-be-led-by-health-experts-nnvpqfzxq 11) van Schalkwyk, M C I, Blythe, J, McKee, M, Petticrew, M. Gambling Act Review. BMJ 2022; 376:o248. Available from: DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.o248 12) Gambling (Problem Gambling Levy) Regulations 2019. Available from: https://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2019/0134/10.0/whole.html 13) E Dugan. NHS cuts ties to gambling cash. The Times. 30 January 2022. Available from: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nhs-cuts-ties-to-gambling-cash-3kskx6b6n 14) T Menmuir. GambleAware faces RET rethink as NHS cuts gambling funding ties. SBC News. 31 January 2022. Available from: https://www.sbcnews.co.uk/social-responsibility/2022/01/31/gambleaware-faces-ret-rethink-as-nhs-cuts-gambling-funding-ties/

  • Our second gambling-harm prevention workshop at Newham Sixth Form College.

    On Thursday 9th December 2021, the 'Preventing Gambling Harm in Diverse Communities' initiative took a further step in helping twenty-eight more students grasp an awareness and understanding of gambling harms as we delivered our second workshop to Newham Sixth Form College (NewVic). A truly remarkable workshop, challenging questions, engaging responses, and a brilliant reaction to our new short film; Do It For Her. It still rings true that Newham Sixth Form College is a school we believe can gain a lot from our workshops. Research shows that in 2015 one street in Newham, High Street North, ranked first in the nine worst-hit streets for gambling losses in London, with punters losing £3 million pounds (see this article for further reading: Revealed: London's worst-hit streets for gambling on fixed odds betting machines | London Evening Standard | Evening Standard) Thank you, Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc), for recognising the significance of gambling harm on young people and for allowing us to come in to deliver our free specialist workshops to the students. We look forward to our working relationship in the future.

  • Gambling-harm prevention workshop: Newham Sixth Form College.

    Newham Sixth Form College houses three of our specialist workshops this week and hopefully many more in the future. You can sense the students were engaged throughout the entire workshop, responding with insightful answers, challenging questions and extremely positive feedback made on the short film ‘Do It For Her’. This is exactly what we want to hear and gain from our workshops and why we love what we do. I was greeted with a fantastic reception for a small class. Each student introduced themselves, touching on what subject they are studying and what they plan to do with the education they are receiving. The initial welcome was solidified with immediate help from students when technical difficulties arose. For this I must truly thank each and every student at the session. The Preventing Gambling Harm in Diverse Communities took another step today in helping 24 more students grasp an understanding of what Gambling is and raising awareness on Gambling Harms as we delivered our workshop to Newham Sixth Form College. This is something I believe is more important for Newham Sixth Form College than may meet the eye. Not only was my walk from the train station to the college met with 3 separate betting shops, but Newham is also a borough that has been heavily affected by Gambling and financial issues. In 2017 Newham was dubbed the ‘Debt Capital of the UK’ (see this article for further information: researchforaction.uk). In 2013, Newham contained 82 different betting shops and one road alone, High Street North, held 18 different stores. This is what we want to challenge, change and have an impact on.

  • Gambling and Alcohol

    I was invited by Alcohol Change UK to share my lived experience of gambling harm and alcohol dependence. In addition to gambling and alcohol addiction and recovery I shared my experience of being recently diagnosed with ADHD. Please do take 20 minutes out of your day to watch.

  • Do It For Her: a first-of-its-kind short drama

    Gambling Harm UK: We're pleased to share ‘Do It For Her’ a first-of-its-kind short drama reflecting on gambling harms in diverse communities experienced by a student and loved ones The short film involved a lived experience inspired and an evidence-based approach specifically throughGambling Harm UK’s research report that was also the first of its type to raise awareness on the disproportionate harms in ethnic minority communities. 'Do It For Her' was produced by Fully Focussed/Million Youth Media, directed by Shehroze Khan, written by Mohammedally Shushtari, and featured Fady Elsayed as the lead actor! The film was co-commissioned as part of the novel ‘Preventing Gambling Harms in Diverse Communities’ alongside YGAM and Red Card Gambling Support Project. The whole team at Gambling Harm UK are extremely proud to have helped bring about a hard-hitting and impactful short film bringing to a life a story that is prevalent but rarely seen or heard about. Kishan Patel (Chair of the Board of Trustees at Gambling Harm UK) first reached out to Fully Focussed on the 13th of February 2021, and following a competitive tender process and some 299 days later, 'Do It For Her' premiered in full for the world to see for free on YouTube on the 9th of December 2021. How did the short film incorporate an evidence-based and lived-experience led approach? A diverse range of topic experts and individuals with lived experience helped guide the film-making process and as a result the film intelligently and creatively reflects a wide range of important discussion points. For example: Factors towards gambling: Industry inducements: Free bets and game design: electronic gaming machines and online casino products have structural characteristics that affect human decision-making and behaviours, and therefore addiction potential, such as free bet offers, high event frequencies, random ratio reinforcement schedules, near misses, losses appearing as wins, multiline betting, and exaggerated audible and visual reinforcements Advertising: the industry spends an estimated £1.6bn on advertising in Great Britain with 80% of that or £1.2bn spent on online advertising, advertising is particularly effective at getting younger individuals to gamble when they otherwise were not going to, 61% of 18-24 year olds spent money on gambling after seeing a gambling ad or marketing when they were otherwise not planning to Association and exposure through sports: Boxing has been estimated to have the highest frequency of gambling sponsorship references in sports per broadcast minute at 4.70 gambling sponsorship references per minute Risk factors: Students/young people (the prevalence of gambling harm is expected to be highest among 16-24 year olds and according to the last gambling prevalence study, BGPS 2010, 17.5% of (or almost 1 in 5) 16-24 year olds suffered significant gambling harm from their gambling in the past year Ethnic minority backgrounds: individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to gamble, more likely to live in areas disproportionately concentrated with betting venues, and between 3-5x more likely to suffer gambling disorder than individuals from white ethnic backgrounds Low mental well-being status: individuals with a low Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing score have been estimated to be 7.65x more likely to suffer gambling disorder harm Types of gambling harm shown in 'Do It For Her': The film demonstrates the development and escalation of harms across all the known domains of gambling harm (taxonomy of harms) for the individual who gambles and the loved ones around that individual including: financial relationship crime health/psychological education and work cultural The potential for recovery by breaking stigmas and through conversation: 'Do It For Her' also aims to empower young people to talk about their experiences of gambling harm to someone they can trust, whether that be a professional or a trusted loved one. Additionally, the film demonstrates how someone may effectively help someone else if their behaviour worries them. We are extremely grateful to have worked with such a talented and dedicated team - thank you to all those involved! With an extra special thanks to all cast and crew involved and individuals with lived experience who helped guide the creative process.

  • Gambling Act Review: the significance of the digital age or the significance of gambling harm

    In December 2020, the Government announced a major and wide-ranging review of the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure they are fit for the digital age. The underlying assumption in this statement is that gambling harm has emerged as a legislative issue worth tackling due to the changes in how the population interact with online gambling products. In this article, we summarise existing evidence to provide commentary on whether gambling harm was an issue prior to the digital age. Therefore, we hope to assess whether the Gambling Act Review should be brought about with a focus around a) the significance of the digital age or b) the significance of gambling harm on the population. In 2019, the remote gross gambling yield exceeded the non-remote gross gambling yield for the first time in Great Britain (Table 1). Table 1 Gross gambling yields statistics stratified by non-remote gambling and remote gambling (excludes lotteries) Despite gambling harm being consistently common in the adult population (Figure 1), at the time of writing there have been no meaningful efforts to understand the significance of gambling harm on the Great British population. Figure 1 Prevalence of gambling harm in the adult population (%) in Great Britain as stratified by low-risk harm, moderate-risk harm, and gambling disorder-harm from 2007 to 2020 To conclude, we find evidence that reflects that gambling harm had been a neglected major public health issue prior to the digital age. We suggest that a public health approach to gambling harm would recognise that the digital age is likely to exacerbate gambling harm issues. However, it is imperative that the review of the gambling act be focussed on reducing and preventing gambling harm, due to gambling harm being a major and neglected public health issue, rather than just due to issues relating to the digital age.

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