A GamCare survey, commissioned to try and uncover how the ongoing cost of living crisis in the UK is affecting UK gamblers, has revealed an unsettling relationship between the two factors.
GamCare, who are a charity with the sole purpose of supporting problem gamblers, revealed that people burdened with financial struggles as a result of worsening cost of living pressures, are turning to gambling as a lifeline.
Although attempting to win money on a betting return is the obvious motive, the charity also reported other scenarios such as people visiting on-site gambling shops for a place of warmth.
The YouGov-supported GamCare survey asked 4,202 adults in total, and although just 7% of participants believed gambling would improve their financial situation over the next year, as many as four in 10 problems gamblers concurred.
GamCare said January of this year resulted in the largest volume of calls to date, with those on the other end seeking support regularly referencing how the cost of living crisis has put further strain on their gambling-related wellbeing.
Those spending extra time in betting shops in order to keep warm was the most alarming of these findings, but the issue was more prevalent among problem gamblers, with one in six admitting to using a warm bank compared with just 5% of the general population.
Around half of the problem gamblers surveyed also said they went without food or clean clothes recently.
Chief Executive Officer at GamCare Anna Hemmings said: “At GamCare, we know first-hand that gambling isn’t a way to ease money worries, as well as how important it is to address the financial picture to support someone’s longer-term recovery from harm,” she said, adding that the charity was launching a new financial advice service.
Heather Wardle, a gambling harm researcher at the University of Glasgow, said the GamCare survey was the first she had seen that explored the relationship between the cost of living crisis and betting, describing the results as “thought-provoking, if, sadly, not unexpected.”