Updated: Dec 12, 2017
A simple pledge in February to help raise awareness of the dangers of excessive gambling
Flutter-free is a new campaign from the Beat the Odds initiative, led by Living Room Cardiff, which aims to encourage those who gamble – whether online or at the bookies – to take a pledge to stop gambling during the month of February 2017. A dedicated website www.flutterfree.com provides a means to register a pledge to stop gambling for the month of February. A fundraising pack is now available online with ideas on how to get involved with the campaign. Pledgers are also encouraged to send a thumbs up selfie in support of the campaign via #flutterfreefeb.
Problem gambling is a real problem in society. Millions of pounds are gambled each year in the UK on various forms of gambling, but by far the biggest threat is posed by Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).
Wynford Ellis Owen, Chief Executive of Living Room Cardiff, and who is leading the Beat the Odds initiative, said, “The UK Government has announced that Wales will now have responsibility for all new FOTBs. This is to be welcomed, but the bad news is that the 1500 terminals already in operation are not devolved and will remain the responsibility of the UK Government.
“The data on gambling prevalence in Wales is poor. Based on the evidence available, The Living Room Cardiff estimate that there are around 114,000 at risk and problematic gamblers in Wales with as much as 12,000 considered having a gambling disorder. The Gambling Commission figures show that over £1.62billion was staked on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT) alone, an average of £675 per adult with an overall loss of £51.5 billion.
“FOBTs are just one of the countless gambling opportunities available. Can you imagine if only a small fraction of that money was put aside during Flutter-free February what good that money could be used for instead?”
Professor Jim Orford in his evidence for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, added, “FOBT playing is now the most lucrative form of gambling in Britain (betting on dog races, for example, is much less so). FOBTs may be costing people with gambling problems in the region of a quarter of a billion pounds a year (23% of gross FOBT gambling yield which was £1,295m at the time).
“No other forms of gambling have estimates of losses contributed by problem gamblers which are anywhere near that amount. The nearest are table games in casinos, betting on dog races, betting on horse races, and slot machines in arcades, each of which is estimated to take in the region of £50m to £75m annually from people with gambling problems.”
Dr Sean Cowlishaw, University of Bristol and a member of the Beat the Odds advisory group of academics, said, “Participation in gambling is increasing in the UK, with surveys indicating that around 59% of British adults reported gambling activities (excluding National Lottery) in 2010, which was an increase of 7% from 2007. These trends have occurred in the context of developments in gambling technologies (e.g., electronic gambling machines, online gambling) and increased exposure (for example, gambling-related advertisements grew by almost 500% between 2007 and 2012), and larger numbers of people experiencing problems with gambling.
“These problems encompass a spectrum of difficulties that are defined mainly by gambling-related harms (e.g., financial crises, relationship breakdown), and can sometimes reach levels of severity that warrant diagnoses of pathological gambling or gambling disorder. Prevalence studies indicate that around 7% of men (2% of women) experience at least some problems with gambling annually in the UK, with higher levels among young adults (e.g., 17% of males aged 16-24 reported at least some problems in 2012). There is also a socio-economic gradient of risk, whereby elevated risk of gambling problems is associated with low income and high deprivation.” Clive Wolfendale, Chief Executive of CAIS, Living Room Cardiff’s parent charity, said, “It has been very important to us to ensure that the early development of our thinking around problematic gambling in Wales was conducted in a wholly unfettered manner. This has not prevented us engaging with a wide range of stakeholders who naturally carry different perspectives. We are now looking at the best way to take our work forward in tackling what is emerging as a major public wellbeing issue.”
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