- A GSS evaluation found that gambling stigma is preventing Scots from accessing treatment
- Frontline workers need to improve their questioning methods to help Scots struggling with gambling harm
- In Wales, the Lib Dems want to double the tax imposed on online operators
The stigma surrounding gambling addiction which has gone down in the last year remains a major hindrance in providing treatment and support for individuals dealing with gambling harms in Scotland.
Kantar Public recently conducted an independent evaluation of the country’s Gambling Support Service (GSS) and found that there’s still room for improvement in the way frontline workers engage in conversations with clients to recognize gambling harms.
Training Must Focus on Reducing Stigma
GGS, conducted by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), delivers training to frontline workers to help them identify when people are at risk of, or already experiencing, gambling harms. The program, funded by GambleAware, aims to promote awareness of gambling harms across Scotland and assist people in accessing specialist support and treatment services.
Since the program’s launch in April 2022, more than 2,000 professionals have already been trained, with trainees reporting a 97% satisfaction rate. But according to the evaluation carried out by Kantar Public, stigma was both a personal and social barrier to seeking support, with some frontline workers trained under the program still showing reluctance when interviewing people who may be struggling with gambling harms.
As a result, many victims remain hesitant to reveal their condition and seek help due to fear of being judged or rejected. To address this, the evaluation, commissioned by GambleAware, came up with a list of recommendations that would improve how those in the frontline services conduct conversations with clients and ultimately reduce stigma.
The recommendations focus on adopting a more flexible approach to asking questions and promoting natural conversations with clients.
Anna Hargrave, GambleAware’s Chief Commissioning Officer, acknowledged the challenges that frontline workers face when having conversations with clients. She said clearer guidance and more flexibility around questions should help them reduce stigma and have sensitive client conversations going forward.
Derek Mitchell, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, praised the work of his team but noted that stigma remains a major problem which is why people experiencing gambling harm should not be judged so they can seek help as soon as possible.
Welsh Lib Dems Call for Double Tax on Online Gambling
Meanwhile, in Wales, Liberal Democrat politicians are proposing a 100% hike in online gaming tax, from 21% to 42%, to raise funds for social care.
The Lib Dems said the move could raise £56 million which would go directly to the social care sector. The funds would be used to increase the salaries of social care workers to encourage them to stay and not shift to better-paid jobs.
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