Having received the results of the study, dedicated to analyzing gambling harms, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission has restated its commitment to tackling this serious problem.
The findings of the research revealed a close link between suicidal actions or thoughts and gambling. According to the study, five percent of problem gamblers had suicide attempts during the previous year. The further five percent were regarded as risk gamblers. This tendency gets worse in combination with drug abuse and mental health issues. The percentage of people who thought about committing suicide during the same period reached 19%.
According to Neil McArthur, CEO of the Gambling Commission, despite the study being based on data from 2007, the results show the link between gambling and suicidal behavior. He admitted the importance of further research and more relevant data, but McArthur also emphasized that the regulator was determined to take further actions aimed at protecting people from problem gambling.
The UKGC plans to work together with Samaritans in order to enhance the existing requirements on gambling companies regarding risk identification and taсkling the problem in order to reduce the level of harm.
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The British regulator and Samaritans have developed a program, which contains guidelines in line with the UKGC’s requirements for the gambling industry to guarantee that operators are reacting properly to the suicide issue.
Besides, for the next two years GamCare (gambling support charity organization) is going to extend the National Gambling helpline hours to twenty-four hours per day. This is another way to support vulnerable players, which will be funded by GambleAware.
The measures the British regulator has undertaken in order to reduce harm, include:
- Introducing stricter requirements for gambling firms regarding interaction with problem gamblers together with detailed guidance on how to comply with these rules.
- Taking severe actions in case gambling companies fail to protect their clients: fines for violating AML or social responsibility requirements amount to £19,6m.
- In order to guarantee players’ protection, the UKGC has undertaken more than three thousand compliance assessments over a period of 3 years.
- Estimating ways of gambling products marketing and removing products with a high level of risk from the market.
- Enhancing identity and age verification in order to ensure online protection.
- Calling for evidence on prohibiting credit card usage as a means of online gambling payments.
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Regarding the necessity of further research into the issue of the link between gambling and suicide, the UKGC plans to:
- Cooperate with the existing and new partners to identify the ways of implementing the recommendations to increase support for problem gamblers (especially if they have already had suicidal attempts).
- Conduct deeper research with the aimed of preventing suicides connected with gambling.
- Create new ways of providing support for players experiencing gambling problems at an early stage.
- Cooperation with charity organizations in the financial sector to continue exploring the role of financial institutions in identifying and providing support for those who are at risk.
As mentioned earlier, the UK government forced local betting companies to review their marketing policy regarding eSports advertising.
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