Leeds City Council is intensifying its efforts to improve support for those at risk of problem gambling in response to new research it commissioned from Leeds Beckett University.
The research concluded that there could be over 10,000 people in Leeds who could be identified as ‘problem gamblers’ and a further 30,000 people who may be ‘at risk of harm’ from it.
Leeds City Council funded the research in order to understand the extent of problem gambling across the city and to assess the availability of specialist support and referral services to help people affected.
Friday 10 March, 11.15am, Leeds Civic Hall Banqueting Suite – available for interview will be Councillor Debra Coupar and Dr Alexandra Kenyon from Leeds Beckett (the latter also available at 1pm). Interviews to be arranged via Leeds City Council/Leeds Beckett press offices- details at end of release.
An expert project group has been established to bring together key national organisations from the gambling industry to work with local third sector agencies and the council. It aims to develop a co-ordinated approach to improve and strengthen support. The council’s initial plans will be presented today (Friday 10 March) at a national conference at Leeds Civic Hall.
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities, said:
“The findings of the study not only raise our understanding and awareness of the issue in the city but, crucially, we intend that it will be the catalyst for action to better support for those suffering from gambling-related harm. As a council we place great emphasis on early support for people with a whole range of issues who may otherwise fall through the cracks and find themselves in even greater difficulty.”
Nationally, the rates of problem gambling are less than one per cent of the population; however, the researchers found that rates in large metropolitan areas such as Leeds are often higher.
Dr Neil Ormerod, Research Fellow at Leeds Beckett University, who interviewed people from local support services, said:
“Support services provide vital assistance to individuals with gambling-related problems. However, all acknowledged difficulties in supporting individuals due to the hidden nature of the problem and few were aware of specialist support in Leeds. To address these issues, several stakeholders pointed to the comprehensive approach taken within Leeds to tackle addiction issues, poverty and homelessness as a good foundation on which to develop problem gambling support.”
The researchers found that the biggest impacts on the health and wellbeing of gamblers were caused by debt, relationship breakdowns and mental health issues.
Dr Alexandra Kenyon from Leeds Beckett said:
“Our findings showed that many people enjoy gambling as a fun and sociable activity. But for some that is not the case. Some gamblers told me they hid their gambling habits from family and friends, lied about their whereabouts, borrowed money or spent grocery money on gambling and sometimes gamble away their wages to ‘chase the big win’.”
Leeds City Council’s press office can be contacted on 0113 378 6007 or email email@example.com
For further details on the research please contact Carrie Braithwaite in the Communications team at Leeds Beckett on 0113 812 3022 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The research was led by Dr Alexandra Kenyon with Dr Neil Ormerod and Visiting Professor David Parsons in Leeds Beckett’s International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality (ICRETH), working closely with nationally-renowned expert on the gambling industry, Dr Heather Wardle.
As part of the research, the team interviewed a range of gamblers in Leeds, as well as ‘land-based’ gambling operators in the city (as opposed to online) including casinos, bingo halls and betting shops, and services across Leeds, from faith-based to health and wellbeing-related support services.