Gambling on a loan? Don’t bet on it
Online gambling and casinos use third-party “data harvesters” to actively target people on low incomes and people who have stopped gambling. An article published in the Guardian newspaper last summer revealed “lower income segments” were among the “most successfully targeted”.
This demographic are more likely to bet again to win back what they have lost – therefore, online alternative lending has also seen an increase in customers who are suffering with problem gambling, using short-term/alternative credit to pay for the habit.
The article tells of how online advertising is used to entice new customers who are on low incomes, offering increasingly larger free bets over the weeks if the first advert is not successful.
In an extreme case last year a major high street bookmakers were under investigation as a customer who had lost more than £200 in 15 minutes on a betting machine was allegedly allowed to phone for a short-term high-cost loan in the shop.
The customer told the investigation, not only did the staff know he had taken out the loans to carry on gambling, but was helping him check to see if it had been funded by attempting his debit card in the shop while he was on the phone. When this loan had cleared, the customer spent it all in the shop and lost this within minutes too. He then took a second loan in the shop and again in front of the staff.
Using short-term loans to fund a gambling addiction can only end badly, forcing the customer into more debt and to act more desperately, chasing the big win to get all their money back – but this rarely happens.
As such, BeGambleAware.org has a range of help, tips and advice to “help minimise gambling harm”.
The rise and rise of online gambling
With little checks when setting online gambling accounts up and the ever-increasing range of markets offering instant results, online gambling has boomed in recent years turning it into a £14bn a year industry – that’s more than £233 for every single person in the UK.
The sensationalist style of advertising with loud graphics, bright logos and celebrities that appeal to working people on low incomes – Ray Winstone for example being the main voice of one of the bigger online bookmakers.
The relaxing of gambling laws back in 2005 allowed online bookmakers and casinos to advertise on TV for the first time. Companies offering tantalising odds and special offers were now allowed direct access to people’s homes. Adverts on TV are still bound by the Watershed to protect young people, but adverts in the public domain are not monitored in the same way.
A recent study also showed online gambling companies sponsor over 60% of football clubs in the top two divisions. Having a company logo on the shirt instantly turns it into an aspirational brand to the fans, not least an impressionable teenager.
9 out of 20 premier league teams and a massive 17 out of 24 clubs in the Championship have online bookmakers or casinos as their main shirt sponsor, creating a captive customer base of millions instantly.
So who’s affected?
Independent charity GambleAware estimates nearly half a million people in the UK could be classed as “Problem Gamblers” – with a further 2 million considered “at risk” or on a low income.
Much more worrying is they estimate around 370,000 11 – 16-year-olds gamble each week with 25,000 of these classed as “Problem Gamblers”. Help and charitable organisations working within the industry have reported people as young as 14 seeking counselling for online gambling problems.
As online gambling and casinos become more widespread Gambling Watch UK have warned this could lead to an increase in gamblers on lower incomes as betting is becoming “normalised” and just a “part of showing support for your sport or team” nowadays.
The UK Government’s stance on online gambling and casinos also leaves people on lower incomes vulnerable, with Gambling Watch UK stating Britain has the most “liberal online gambling regulations of any EU Country” leading to “a generation of young football fans who believe they have to have a bet on sports to enjoy it”.
The following information and advice are taken from Be Gamble Aware website – an independent charity dedicated to minimising gambling-related harm.
The main thing to think about when gambling is to set yourself limits – and stick to them. For some people, this isn’t a problem, but if you find yourself struggling to do this, there are other things you can try.
Recently, online gambling companies have set up a scheme called Self Exclusion, which allows you to opt out of a particular form of gambling for a specified timeframe.
If your child has been using online gambling websites, Self Exclusion could be one way of reducing their ability or access to these. Click here to find out more about Self Exclusion.
www.BeGambleAware.org offer the following tips to help budget while gambling.
- Consider how much cash you are taking with you. Leave your debit card at home and only take what you are willing to lose.
- When gambling online set limits on your accounts
- Try not to have more than one online betting account as it makes it much more difficult to monitor what you are spending.
- Set a time limit – even if setting an alarm reminds you to quit when you’re winning.
Sometimes, especially with online gambling, it can be surprising how the bets can add up. There is a calculator on the Gamble Aware website that can show you in black and white how much you spend on those little flutters – and how quickly they can add up.
If you need help or advice on any issues with gambling, either for yourself or for someone else, the best thing to do is to talk to someone about it – Gamble Aware offer free, confidential advice online or over the phone, their contact National Gambling Helpline number is 0808 8020 133