In the year 2023, the National Gambling Helpline experienced a record number of contacts from individuals seeking help for their gambling problems. With a total of 52,370 calls and online chats, this marked a 24% increase from the previous year. August 2023 was noted as the most active month in the helpline’s history, and December saw a spike of 39% in contacts compared to the previous year. This surge in demand for assistance came after the introduction of a new WhatsApp channel for the helpline in February 2023, which resulted in an additional 6,000 interactions.
One striking statistic from 2023 was the nearly 7,000 licenses for Gamban blocking software that were registered for free through TalkBanStop, a partnership between GamCare, Gamban, and Gamstop. This initiative offers free tools and support to help individuals manage their gambling habits.
A concerning trend revealed by GamCare was that in 117 of the calls and chats, people mentioned that their gambling was linked to financial pressures arising from the cost-of-living crisis. This further emphasizes the urgency and gravity of the issue.
Samantha Turnton, the head of remote support services at GamCare, described the significant increase in people reaching out for help as a “landmark climb” and expressed encouragement that individuals were seeking assistance at an earlier stage, which is crucial for preventing gambling harm from escalating.
In response to the increased demand for the helpline, GambleAware extended its funding for another three years. Anna Hargrave, the chief commissioning and strategy officer at GambleAware, highlighted the importance of prevention and early intervention support services in addressing gambling-related issues.
In addition to the surge in helpline contacts, Gamstop reported a 9.5% increase in new registrations, reaching an all-time high of 92,000 during the past year. However, there was also concern about illegal gambling operators targeting self-excluded players, as well as efforts to bypass self-exclusion strategies using legal operators.
Ismail Vali, the founder and CEO of Yield Sec, expressed distress over the discovery of illicit gambling options that circumvent self-exclusion measures and called for immediate and meaningful intervention to address this issue.