GamCare has published advice from its helpline which highlights some of the key concerns of gambling during the Christmas period.
Emphasising how the festive month can be a difficult time for those who have experienced gambling harms, Ben – one of the charity’s helpline Night Managers – raised some key issues frequently spoken about throughout on his calls at this time of the year.
Firstly, with Payday coming early in December, this leaves a longer gap without income in January, schedules change, and it might become more difficult to access some of the support or activities that you rely on.
Ben provided practical advice for addressing such problems, and explained that even if someone does not celebrate, the period can still present some ‘unique challenges’.
He said: “A common strategy you might already use is to set up a Direct Debit for bills on the day you are paid, to avoid money sitting in the bank.
“With an early payday, you might want to send this money to family or friends to look after until the Direct Debit goes out of your bank account. You can also set up bank gambling blocks or use GAMSTOP, which you can get for free through our TalkBanStop partnership.”
Furthermore, the helpline Manager raised the concern of presents, which may include new phones, tablets, or laptops. For many people who rely on Gamban blocking software to prevent their gambling, this removes the single biggest barrier.
He referenced Gamban as a useful tool to install new devices, which is effective in setting blocks and limitations on betting.
“Equally, if you are buying a new device for someone with experience of gambling harms, pre-installing Gamban before presenting the gift is a way to provide support,” Ben continued, adding that the app is also free through the group’s TalkBanStop partnership, available by talking to a helpline Adviser or through its forum.
Meanwhile, GamCare also reiterated the risks of scratchcards, which are common for people to gift at Christmas, particularly to people who like or may have liked to gamble.
“Someone who has recently embarked on their recovery may not have told their extended family or friends about the gambling harms they have faced, and might find themselves receiving gifts that are challenging for them,” Ben continued.
“Cash can also be a common gift that presents challenges. A sudden influx of cash may open the door to the risks of returning to gambling and experiencing gambling harm.
“In both cases, it can be helpful to ask people not to give these gifts beforehand. Gift cards, for instance, are a good substitute as there are limitations on how they can be used.”
Finally, the helpline manager also explained how Christmas is also likely to cause financial and emotional pressures.
He suggested that creating open, two-way conversations and discussing finances with the people in your life can be beneficial for trust and transparency, and for avoiding triggers.
“Working with your loved ones to ease the financial and social pressures of Christmas may help reduce any triggers during the festive period. Alongside open communication with the people around you, our National Gambling helpline is available for anyone who has faced gambling harms, and we offer a variety of self-help tools,” Ben concluded.
GamCare offers free and confidential information, advice, and support for anyone affected by their own gambling or someone else’s gambling.