Discrimination of people who gamble is making it harder for them to seek help, according to researchers who have launched an in-depth study of stigma around betting.
Academics from LJMU, the National Centre for Social Research and the University of Wolverhampton will examine how people who experience harms from gambling are impacted by stigma and discrimination, after winning £350,000 for the work from the charity GambleAware.
The team will consider how people may be discriminated against in a range of fora, including healthcare, the media, politics, civil society, third sector and charitable organisations and in the gambling industry itself.
Dr Darren Chadwick, a senior lecturer in psychology at LJMU and co-investigator said: “There tends to be less understanding of gambling harms, compared with mental health conditions or harms related to substances or alcohol. Also, people can tend to mis-attribute gambling harms to character flaws”.
“As a consequence, people can find it harder to make friends, find work and to feel valued by society.”
“In addition, negative perceptions and discrimination frequently exacerbate and worsen the gambling harms people experience. Stigma is one of the biggest barriers to help-seeking among people who gamble. Therefore, better understanding of this societal issue is fundamental to better support people who experience gambling harms in the future.”
The research also aims to establish which communities are disproportionately impacted by stigmatisation and how stigma can affect people who struggle with gambling combined with drug use, anxiety or depression, or have lived experiences of homelessness.
The work will identify the kinds of services, interventions, information campaigns, and policies needed to challenge stigmatisation and aim to reduce gambling harms for stigmatised communities. Findings are expected to be made available in 2024.
Anna Hargrave, GambleAware Chief Commissioning Officer, said: “Currently there is limited research into stigma and gambling in Great Britain. Stigmatisation causes significant harm in and of itself, and can lead to people feeling shame, experiencing mental health challenges and social exclusion. We also know that stigma can stop people from accessing essential support or treatment services such as the National Gambling Treatment Service.”