Gambling Reform & Society Perception

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David Lammy MP, on problem gambling – February 2011
Unless we establish some speed limits on the road, we are only going to need more and more ambulances.

About GRASP

Gambling Reform & Society Perception (GRASP) was established in November 2010.

GRASP was founded and is run by former Compulsive Gamblers who have a burning desire to prevent other people from suffering from this secret addiction. We help and advise problem gamblers but our primary focus is on prevention rather than cure and raising awareness of problem gambling.

It was apparent that anyone wanting to discuss the explosion of gambling in our daily lives, the deregulation of the industry or anything connected with the rise in problem gambling, had nowhere to discuss the subject.

If you have a gambling problem in Great Britain, you’ll be directed to Gamblers Anonymous who do not get involved with the political side of things or Gamcare who are the national charity for problem gamblers. Gamcare will not allow any concerns to be raised on their forum and you’ll be directed to the national petition site, where if you have a concern as a problem gambler or as an associated loved one, you have to raise 100,000 signatures, just to get your opinion heard.

It’s also important that the awareness of Problem Gambling is raised and made more widespread to society. The 2010 Prevalence Survey (released Feb 2011) highlighted that 3.5 million adults are showing signs of difficulties with their gambling as either problem gamblers or at risk of becoming problem gamblers.

This figure is huge, especially when you consider that every problem gambler affects between five to fifteen people closest to them.

21st century gambling is everywhere. Adverts bombard our screens, betting companies sponsor our favourite programmes and our children’s sporting heroes promote a betting company on their shirt. If you’re not tired of receiving the latest live odds on your advert break, every pop-up click on the internet or every turn of your newspaper, ask yourself this question:

With all this exposure to gambling and gambling addiction having increased by 50% in Great Britain, how many adverts have you seen warning of the potential dangers of having a bet. Yes, you can win a house, but does anyone mention that you can also lose a house?

The answer is zero. There is not one advert raising awareness of problem gambling from the two organizations mentioned above, the industry or government.

GRASP could not sit back and allow this to happen so decided to started our own campaign, which you can see on this site and we hope (subject to funding) to take this campaign nationally.

The Gambling Industry provide 0.085% of Gross Profits towards helping people suffering from a gambling addiction and so they should. Without their product, the problem wouldn’t be as widespread. 0.085% is simply not enough money to cover increased research, education, treatment and most importantly PREVENTION.

As mentioned, gambling has been deregulated and allowed to be PROMOTED into our homes. Advertising had always been banned for gambling, but in 2007 this changed when the government allowed blanket campaigns. This is just one element that has led to a dramatic rise in problem gambling. Gambling Reform is a big part of GRASP, to try and stop families going through the pain that problem gambling brings and you can find out more throughout this site.

The Government receive £3 billion in taxes per year from gambling revenue, but problem gamblers are costing the state £3.6 billion per year. It’s clear to see the balance has already been tipped the wrong way as the Government’s plan for the last tax bastion have already gone wrong.

Under the current 2005 Gambling Act, a problem gambler who is suffering from an addiction/illness will not be stopped from completely spending their life away, which in turn shatters the lives of many people around them who didn’t have an addiction. Officially the industry say all the right things and that procedures are in place to approach problem gamblers. It’s a big part of their licence conditions to protect young and vulnerable gamblers, but industry staff are coming to GRASP with concerns. The industry rely on problem gamblers for big profits and our government are addicted to the problem gamblers losses.

For too long, the industry has relied on the fact that an addict will always go quietly in shame, or be bailed out by family, due to how society perceives the addiction and will not share their story, thus the problem isn’t recognised.

GRASP is different, we’re full of recovering addicts who are prepared to share their story to tighten a few issues within the industry and the banking sector, which has been allowed to happen by our government.

You can be in no doubt when you buy a packet of cigarettes what it might do to you. It’s not advertised/promoted and society are educated at the potential pitfalls. GRASP demands the same for gambling. Educate society, give people a balanced view, make an 18 year old gambling for the first time fully aware of the potential dangers of where a bet might take them, so they can make an educated choice.

The business plan for the industry is based on addiction and indebtedness, this plan needs to change.

The industry states that problem gamblers are a small minority. The question they need to answer is, how much are they making from this small minority? When you look at the average debt for a problem gambler, the figures confirm that this `small` minority are playing a `large` part in their bottom line figures.

For more information on our campaigns, please visit the reform and society perception pages.

GRASP are not anti-gambling, we’re anti problem gambling, because gambling addiction is not a choice, addictive behaviours are a manifestation of the disease, not a cause.

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