CARE has had a policy focus on gambling since 2006. We are particularly concerned by the growth of on-line gambling via the internet, TV and mobile phones because of its 24-7 availability and the lack of the natural, social and geographic restraints that exist with traditional forms of gambling.
Here you can explore more about CARE’s work in relation to gambling, read some of the tragic stories which show why we need to be involved, and learn how you might be able to engage.
The dangers of on-line gambling are best appreciated via consideration of real life examples of the human cost:
Recently a man living in Edinburgh killed his mother and then killed himself after having gambled away all their savings on the internet and racked up a five figure debt. He was caught in the vicious cycle wanting to get back the money he had lost but using gambling as a means to do so. He gambled to distract himself from the ever increasing pressure, guilt and shame he felt because of his addiction. Even though there are organizations that would have helped him deal with his addiction he decided to end it and took two lives that were not his to take. Though this story is on the extreme end of the way people have sought to deal with gambling addiction it is not an isolated tragedy.
Then there is the case of the Sunderland stockbroker who embezzled £370,000 over a 7 year period to cover a debt he owed because of his online gambling, horse racing and casino habit.
Significantly gambling is no longer just a man’s activity. A recent sad story concerns a woman in Norwich who worked for the Royal Mail. She started to play bingo online and at first it was a bit of harmless fun, but as she enjoyed the excitement more and more and saw the gambling as a means to escape the routine and stress of daily life, she became addicted, spending more money and time gambling at home via the internet. After having stolen in excess of £70,000 from her workplace, she was discovered and charged with theft. She was prosecuted and sentenced to 12 months in prison, depriving her 15 year old son and 9 year old daughter of their mother.
It is also important to understand that debt is not the only problem associated with gambling. This story of a Cambridge University maths student illustrates that gambling addiction is also about time and relationships. The student who wants to remain unnamed would play poker all of his waking hours, actually making significant sums of money, but not spending any time in lectures or doing work towards his degree. The addiction had adverse effects on his health, education, relationships and overall wellbeing.
If you think you might be addicted to gambling, or have a loved one who you believe might have an addiction you can go here to find out about organizations that offer help.
While expanding our work into this area CARE have partnered with a larger coalition of Christian organizations and church groups including the Evangelical Alliance, Quaker Action on Alcohol and Drugs, the Salvation Army and the Methodist and Anglican Churches to speak with an informed voice to Government about ongoing concerns following on from the Gambling Act.
As part of our ongoing coalition’s effort the Methodists and Salvation Army have produced a document which is supported by other coalition members. We commend this document to you for insights into different forms of gambling, how the gambling act 2005 works and for how Christians can get involved with this issue. There is also a section that deals with the theological implications of Gambling and how Christianity relates to gambling. You can download this document HERE.
In addition to the work with Faith groups, CARE has started working with a web based campaign group called GRASP. GRASP stands for The Gambling Reform & Society Perception Group. They are a forum and campaign organization made up of concerned reformed problem gamblers, and people struggling with problem gambling who want to see the culture and legislation change in the UK in order to increase prevention rather than simply trying to deal with the consequences of problem gambling after somebody has become addicted.
They have some amazing stories of recovery and also horrifying stories of how people got into trouble because of gambling. Do have a peek at their website, and if you know somebody who might benefit from their work do spread the word.