Problem gambling is a growing issue for many — and when it becomes excessive it not only affects the gambler, but also family, friends and society at large in many destructive ways.
Millions of pounds are gambled each year in the UK on various forms of gambling, but by far the biggest threat is posed by Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).
The second Flutter-free February campaign, a Beat the Odds initiative led by Living Room Cardiff, aims to encourage those who gamble — whether online or at the bookies — to take a pledge to stop gambling during the month of February 2018.
A fundraising pack is now available online with ideas on how to get involved with the campaign. Pledgers are also encouraged to send a thumbs up selfie in support of the campaign via #flutterfreefeb.
Wynford Ellis Owen, who is leading the Beat the Odds initiative on behalf of Living Room Cardiff, said: “Flutter-free February is now in its second year and the need to tackle the scourge of problem gambling has not gone away.
"We want to encourage as many people as possible to think twice before placing a bet and our Mr. Tipster character will help by offering simple daily tips on how to stop gambling.
"These include self-exclusion from all betting shops, contacting broadband suppliers to block access to any over 18s sites as well as deleting any gambling apps on devices."
Based on the evidence available, The Living Room Cardiff estimate that there are around 114,000 at risk and problematic gamblers in Wales with as many as 12,000 considered having a gambling disorder. Gambling Commission figures show that over £1.62billion was staked on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT) alone, an average of £675 per adult with an overall loss of £51.5 billion.
“While the UK Government announced Wales will have responsibility for all new FOTBs, the 1500 terminals already in operation are not devolved and will remain the responsibility of the UK Government," Wynford said. "FOBTs are just one of the countless gambling opportunities available.
“The Flutter-free February campaign will hopefully become a springboard for many to reach out for help in tackling their own gambling problems.
"Our work however is all year round, and we will be hosting the 4th Welsh national ‘Beat the Odds’ conference on excessive gambling at the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay on 20th June 2018.
“This year’s theme ‘It’s all in the Mind’ will provide an opportunity for discussion and debate on the work undertaken at the Living Room Cardiff, examine the psychology of gambling as well as the latest research and best practice in tackling problem gambling delivered by experts from across the world."
Confirmed speakers at the conference include Professor Samantha Thomas from Deakin University, Australia; Professor Rebecca Cassidy from Goldsmiths, University of London; Wales’ Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Frank Atherton; Sarah Harrison, CEO Gambling Commission; Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones, who runs the National Problem Gambling Clinic in London, the only NHS clinic dealing with gambling addiction, and Iain Corby, deputy CEO of GambleAware.
CAIS chief executive Clive Wolfendale said: “Sensible opinion is at last being mobilised on the scourge of problematic gambling in the UK.
"We aim to keep Wales at the forefront of research and response in our programme of Beat the Odds events for 2018.”