Calls to National Gambling Helpline Increases 24% in 2023

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New data reveals that in 2023, a record number of individuals reached out for assistance with gambling problems.

The National Gambling Helpline reported 52,370 calls for help, a significant 24% increase from the previous year's 42,000 inquiries. The increase suggests that the NHS’ efforts to address problem gambling may be having an effect. As part of these efforts, the health service opened seven new specialist treatment clinics over the past year.

Government Considering New Levy

In October 2023, the government revealed that it was considering implementing a new levy on gambling operators of up to 1%. It claimed that this would bring in as much as £100 million annually to fund research, prevention, and treatment of gambling addiction.

Data from the National Gambling Helpline, operated by GamCare, showed a sudden increase in calls during December 2023, with a 39% rise compared to the same period in the previous year. This spike during the festive season underscores the challenges faced by individuals with gambling problems.

According to those who work for the helpline, there was not only an increase in calls from those concerned about someone else’s gambling over the holiday season but also several calls from addicts saying that they found it difficult to watch television due to the large number of gambling adverts.

NHS Investing £2.3 Billion in Mental Health Services

Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s mental health director, emphasized the devastating effects of gambling addiction on mental health and lives. She highlighted the NHS's role in treating the condition, pointing out the existence of 12 gambling harms clinics as part of a £2.3 billion investment in mental health services.

GamCare reported significant engagements through its new WhatsApp messaging service, providing a vital channel of support for addicts and their families. Samantha Turton from GamCare expressed concern over the rising need for help but also optimism about people seeking assistance earlier in their struggle with gambling.

We are used to seeing small increases in the volume of people contacting us each year. However, in 2023 there has been a landmark climb in people reaching out who want to start their recovery journey from gambling. While it is concerning to see the rising numbers who need help, we are encouraged that advisers are reporting an increase in calls from people who are reaching out at an earlier stage.

Samantha TurtonGamCare Head of Remote Support Services

Anna Hargrave from GambleAware noted the correlation between the rise in helpline calls and the establishment of the National Gambling Support Network. She stressed the importance of prioritizing these services, especially with the introduction of the statutory gambling levy.

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