Number of Problem Gamblers Seeking Help During UK Lockdown Soars

  • Gordon Moody Association offers treatment programs for people with severe gambling problems
  • People seeking help rose from 30 per month to 1,000 per month between April and June
  • The charity was getting up to five calls per day from gamblers with suicidal thoughts
Closeup of man wearing glasses looking at computer screen
The Gordon Moody Association has witnessed a significant rise in problem gamblers seeking its help during the pandemic lockdown in the UK. [Image:]

A concerning trend

A top gambling addiction charity in the UK has indicated a significant increase in the number of problem gamblers seeking help because of the coronavirus lockdown.

The Gordon Moody Association operates residential treatment programs for individuals who struggle with severe gambling issues. Its interactions with people who are grappling with gambling problems skyrocketed from 30 per month to 1,000 per month between April and June. 

as many as five calls a day from gamblers who had suicidal thoughts

During the peak of the UK’s lockdown, the charity was getting as many as five calls a day from gamblers who had suicidal thoughts. These calls were usually from former residents or from people who were contemplating getting help through the program. The number of women and young people looking for advice or seeking treatment also rose.

Ending the stigma

Gordon Moody Association chief executive Matthew Hickey said a major wave was expected as a result of the pandemic, and he believes these increases could just be the beginning. Hickey added: “Now that we’re moving into the second quarter of 2020, we’re definitely seeing an upsurge in numbers.” 

He hopes that greater public awareness of problem gambling can help reduce the stigma associated with addicts seeking treatment. Hickey likened it to how people speaking openly about mental health issues only became common ten to 15 years ago. 

Online gambling activity

It appears that while the overall levels of gambling fell during the lockdown because most sporting events were canceled, frequent gamblers actually increased their activity.

GVC Holdings, the owner of several UK betting brands such as Ladbrokes, released its second-quarter results on Thursday. While net revenue for the period fell 22%, online income actually rose by 20%. Studies have shown that online casino games are more addictive than sports betting.

According to UK Gambling Commission data released in May, online slots play was up 25%, online poker activity increased by 38%, and virtual sports betting jumped 40% during lockdown. Almost two thirds of “engaged” gamblers were increasing the amount of money or time they spent gambling during the period. 

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