For many people, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. However, with national lockdowns looming, new tier restrictions, and Christmas bubbles set to burst on 27th/28th December 2020, some people will undoubtedly find the festive period difficult.
As the UK Gambling Commission found earlier this year, those who have gambling addictions or are displaying signs of gambling harms found it hard to stay away from online casinos and sports betting sites during the first national lockdown which started in March.
Since then, many people have been furloughed again or even made redundant, leaving them with even more stress to battle during an increasingly tough economic climate.
Although no-one can wave a magic wand and make problem gambling disappear entirely, three big organisations desperately want to make a difference. Therefore, they’ve come together to create a 12-month pilot which aims to help sufferers take the first step by “simply talking to someone”.
How TalkBanStop aims to address problem gambling
The campaign is called TalkBanStop and it was created from a collaboration by GamBan, GamCare, and Gamstop.
Its mission is to “help anyone experiencing gambling harms to start their recovery journey”.
There is currently a dedicated page on the GamCare website about TalkBanStop that includes direct support lines such as a live chat service and a freephone number, both of which are operated 24/7.
The support services are provided by trained advisors who can speak to anyone worried about problem gambling in complete confidence.
The online chat facility is also 100% private and secure, so users of the service do not need to worry about their friends or family members being able to view it.
TalkBanStop is designed to help anyone who is struggling with gambling but doesn’t know where or who to turn to. It provides free support and useful tools that can give gamblers some much-needed “breathing space to reflect on what’s going on”.
Do it now
People who need extra convincing to take the important first step of getting in touch with TalkBanStop’s support services or the National Gambling Helpline are urged to take inspiration from ex-footballer Michael Chopra and recovering gambler, Chris Gilham, who have recently released a film about their experiences of gambling addiction and how they have sought help to aid their recovery.
Anna Hemmings is the CEO of GamCare, and she acknowledges that 2020 has been “a particularly challenging year” for almost all of us. She cites Christmas as a particularly testing time for anyone who is trying to quit or reduce time spent gambling.
She stresses that gambling addiction “can happen to anyone” and urges people who are struggling in silence to reach out for support that can help them make “empowered choices” about their steps to recovery.
More about the three gambling awareness organisations behind TalkBanStop
Founded in 2015 by Jack Symons it was responsible for developing specialist software that can automatically block over 40,000 online gambling apps and websites from users’ devices. The software is regularly updated to ensure that new sites and apps are included.
A UK-based, independent charity that launched in 1997. It offers help to any who is affected by problem gambling, including friends and family members who are concerned about a loved one.
An independent and free-to-use self-exclusion service for players with online gambling problems. It lets people put controls in place to help restrict their online gambling activities for a set period such as 6 months, 1 year or 5 years.