Gambling – advice for all

Gambling is taking part in a game or activity where you risk losing something, usually money, in order to try and win a prize. It is all down to chance and usually the odds are very much against you. The reason that people gamble initially is usually for entertainment. They then continue as it is exciting and to make money, although this rarely happens!

We know that some adults are addicted to gambling and that children and young people living with parents or carers that are affected, are likely to suffer as well. However young people are also directly at risk of developing problems with gambling. Research tells us that 2% of young people aged between 12 and 15 develop gambling problems.

In recognition of the danger that gambling can cause young people, the Gambling Act 2005 makes most gambling for under 18’s illegal, with the exception of the National Lottery and slot machines with low stakes, which is 16.

Types of Gambling
Common types of gambling that young people or adults may become involved in include slot machines, lottery, scratch cards or through playing card games with friends, visiting casinos or various forms of online betting. It can start off as harmless as just a one off, such as betting on a cup final football game or buying a charity scratch card, but can get out of hand and become an obsession.

Signs that things are getting out of hand?
Warning signs can include:

If you are worried – you can take an online quiz at to assess whether you might have a problem.

What impact does it have?

Gambling addictions, like any other addiction, can take over your life. Young people in particular may not be aware of the risks associated with gambling or the harmful impacts of problem gambling. Bad things that can happen include:

  • losing money that you need to spend on other things such as lunch, bus fares, clothing etc.
  • mental ill-health including depression, loss of self-esteem, feeling of guilt
  • resorting to criminal activities to fund gambling – such as theft – which could lead to a criminal record
  • falling out with friends and family due to changes in behaviour and loss of trust
  • not doing well at school, college or work
  • failing exams that impact on a future career.

Gambling websites – what to look at before gambling

Before you transfer any money into a gambling account you should check that the organisation you plan to gamble with is licensed by the Gambling Commission (GC).

Licensed gambling businesses must display that they are licensed and provide a link to their licence register where you can see what type of activities they are allowed to offer and also if the GC have taken any regulatory action against them – visit the website at

If there is no regulatory action listed, then the GC have not taken any action against them.

You can also see their address, website domain names, trading names and current licence status.

What support is available?

The Beacon Counselling Trust in partnership with GamCare, deliver a free gambling support service for individuals and families affected by problem gambling in the Greater Manchester area.

This service includes a national telephone helpline and other support services including live chat rooms and forums and following assessment; face to face engagement i.e. one to one counselling; couple counselling; and group counselling; along with a number of advice and guidance platforms including debt management and social support.

Beacon Counselling Youth Outreach – their free offer has been updated.

GamCare provides information, advice and support for anyone affected by problem gaming – their work encompasses education, advice, treatment and communication.

Big Deal shares experiences of young people that have developed addictions including football betting.

The Mix provides information on what is a gambling addiction, who is most likely to be affected by gambling, what are the temptations, difficulties that may be encountered during the process of giving up gambling, and how to deal with a relapse.

The Money Advice Service provides free and impartial money advice via web chat or call 0800 138 7777 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm).

Childline can provide support with addiction – call their 24/7 free phone line 0800 111.

Skins in the Game – research from the Royal Society of Public Health which has some interesting insights from the young people.

PHSE – network gambling educational resources include a podcast

NAO – report which looks at gambling harms and call for changes to how the industry is regulated.

National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms

The National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms was launched in April 2019 and can be viewed on the Gambling Commission website at

Reducing gambling harms means taking a broader focus than simply encouraging individuals to gamble responsibly, and this strategy sets out collectively how we can adopt a public health approach to reducing gambling harms.

A public health approach to reducing gambling harms is not solely – or even primarily – about health care provision – it is about adopting practices that bring benefit at the population level, as well as at the individual, in order to prevent gambling harms from occurring. It means recognising that a broad range of measures must usually be taken by different people and organisations to address what can often be a complex mix of harmful consequences.

This strategy sets out how, by focusing combined efforts on two strategic priorities of prevention and education and treatment and support, we can collectively have the most impact on reducing gambling harms.

  • Prevention and education: To make significant progress towards a collective and clear prevention plan applying the right mix of interventions.
  • Treatment and support: To make significant progress towards truly national treatment and support options that meet the needs of current and future service users.

These inter-related strategic priorities are delivered through four enablers:

  1. regulation and oversight
  2. collaboration
  3. evaluation
  4. research to inform action.

The Gambling Commission and licensing authorities work in partnership through shared regulation of gambling premises and will use the findings and evidence generated through the developing public health model to build on existing tool-kits for gambling, using an evidence-based approach.

Considerable progress has already been made in developing this work and details can be found in the Public Health toolkit on the Gambling Commission website at


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