Risks of gambling-related harms

18 June 2021

As Euros 2020 hit their stride, gambling may become a temptation. Student Funding Manager Liz Eden has some tips to ensure you are aware of the risks of gambling, and some resources and organisations where you can get support if needed.

A person looks on to a football pitch

It’s been a strange and stressful year. But as the sun starts to shine and the much-anticipated Euro 2020 tournament gets underway, we hope lots of our students will take the opportunity to relax and enjoy the spectacle of world class football!

Some students might also be tempted to have a cheeky flutter as part of the experience. Placing bets on sporting outcomes has played a part of human recreation for a long time. Some historians date the practice back over 2,000 years to the Ancient Greeks and the first Olympics. But since those days, the gambling industry has become a lot more sophisticated!

Gambling adverts

Gambling adverts use lots of different tactics to make gambling seem fun and exciting, such as such as celebrity endorsements. Lots of them are particularly targeted at young people. There are rules for how and when adverts can be shown as part of major sporting events on TV, but these rules often don’t apply to adverts online. These adverts are incredibly powerful tools for getting a new generation to take up gambling as a hobby.

Of course, it is possible to enjoy gambling safely, which lots of people do. But a recent report into gambling harms identified that 60% of the gambling industry’s profits come from people who have a gambling problem or are at risk of developing one.

Gambling and wellbeing

Gambling-related harm can affect anyone. So, it’s really important to be aware of the warning signs, and to know where to turn if you think you or someone you know might be at risk. There are lots of resources available to help, from those who just want a bit of advice, to those who need support trying to quit.

  • GamCare is a leading national provider of support and advice on gambling-related harm
  • Gambleaware operates a free 24 hour Helpline (0808 8020 133) as well as a live chat service
  • GamStop is a self-exclusion service which enables gamblers to take back control of their online gambling activity
  • Gordon Moody provides treatment for gambling addiction
  • YGAM is an education charity which works with schools and universities to raise awareness of the risks of gambling-related harm in young people. They don’t provide support directly, but their website lists lots of great sources of support.

Minimising the risk of gambling-related harms

We hope you have a wonderful summer and enjoy all the great sporting events taking place. Here are our top tips for staying safe and minimising the risk of gambling-related harm:

1. It’s not compulsory!

If you don’t want betting to be part of your spectator sports experience, then don’t do it. Ignore anyone who tries to pressure you into gambling if you don’t want to; your real friends will respect your decision. Also remember you can use the UCL Report + Support tool if you are experiencing harassment or bullying.

2. If you do choose to gamble, make sure you are only betting what you can afford to lose

It’s a good idea to decide in advance what amount you’re willing to spend and don’t go over this. Reputable bookmakers will enable you to set a limit that you can’t exceed.

3. Free bets...

... are design to draw you in. But over the longer term the odds are rarely in your favour!  

4. Beware of cross-selling

Sports bets are a popular form of gambling, but not particularly lucrative for the gambling industry. Gambling firms will often use major sports events as a way to entice in new customers, and then heavily target them with adverts for other forms of gambling.

5. When the fun stops, stop.

If you find yourself gambling more and more, but it’s no longer an enjoyable experience, or if you find yourself dipping into next week’s grocery budget, it might be time to ask for some help.

If you want to talk to someone about gambling related harm, the Student Funding Advisory team, and the Student Support and Wellbeing team are here to listen to you, in confidence and without judgement. We can assist students with a wide range of concerns, and help you find the support you need. Contact us via askUCL.

Liz Eden, Student Funding Manager