Social Media and Gambling – A growing concern


Social Media – where it all began

How strongly are gambling and social media linked in today’s society? Let’s begin by exploring social media. In its true form, social media has been around for approximately 40 years. One of the first social media sites which appeared in 1979 was ‘Usenet’ which had the most basic of functions, ‘in comparison to today’s social media platforms’. It allowed users to post news to newsgroups.

Throughout the decades, there have been a number of social media platforms developed and launched. Some were successful,  including ‘Six Degrees’ in the early days. Whereas in more recent years, ‘Facebook’, ‘Twitter’ and ‘Linkedin’ have become a bit of a household name to most.

Of course, this was not always the case. When social media launched in the USA around 14 years ago. It seemed of little interest to people with only 5% of the population using it and the rest of the world hadn’t a clue about it, ‘this was partly due to people’s lack of internet access’.

Another – Sign of the Times 

It’s incredible just how quickly this thing called ‘social media’ has infiltrated the lives of billions of people in such a short space of time. It has changed the way we do pretty much everything and I imagine for some of you, more likely the younger generation, you cannot remember a time before social media?


Social media continues to be an integral part of our lives. We use it on a daily basis, whether connecting with friends and family, play games or to access the news from around the globe.

It has evolved at such a rapid pace that its functionality has quickly expanded to allow us to do so much more in recent years. Overall and perhaps, most importantly, it is there for us to entertain ourselves. There are around 2.6 billion people globally, who use social media in today’s society.

Initially, ‘Facebook’ was created to ‘make the world more connected.’  One of its mission statements is that –

People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family. To discover what’s going on in the world, and share and express what matters to them’.

Social Media – A Big Business

Nowadays, we have access to a continual stream of news, updates and information from people around the world. Platforms can provide us with an insight into the lives of some of the worlds most famous and influential people whether in business or the world of entertainment.

As mentioned above, just over a decade ago this wouldn’t have been conceivable.

This phenomenon called ‘social media’ has had an enormous impact on how businesses in all industries, have been able to construct their audiences. Prior to setting up GCS, I would honestly admit, as I am sure my business partner would agree, that I was a bit of a social media recluse. However, I soon came to realise its importance in the world of business. In 2018 the top 4 industries which dominated social media included Hospitality, Manufacturing, Pharmaceutical and finally the Finance industry.

Social Media & Gambling

The Gambling Commission reported in May of 2019 that 14.5 billion was the gross gambling yield (GGY) of the Great Britain gambling industry (Oct 17-Sept 18). This was an overall decrease of 0.4% from figures reported in the previous year (Apr 17-Mar 18). However, the figures show that there was a 2.9% increase of GGY within the remote sector amounting to 5.6 billion.

Gambling and Social Media groups – Online gambling innovations are really gathering pace, as gaming, gambling and social media can be so interlinked which comes under the umbrella term of “social gaming”.

Facebook gaming is a huge business with companies like Zynga getting millions from selling virtual rewards and in-game features. Slotamania is one of the most popular facebook gambling games and has approximately 40 million players from around the world. There is a real social aspect to these games which allows players to see which of there friends are members and regularly suggests that the player can send gifts or make contact with other users. This can sometimes lead to individuals developing social media groups specifically linked to gambling. These groups can have thousands of users and people often share gambling tips, reviews knowledge and news. To my knowledge, there are no restrictions on who can join the group which is increasingly worrying when we look at how many people of all ages who access social media and are problem gamblers or at risk of developing a gambling problem.

The Remote Sector

What is the remote sector or remote gambling? In lamens terms:- The remote sector can include anything from remote betting, bingo and the casino sector. ‘Remote gambling’ is defined as gambling in which persons participate in the use of ‘remote communication’. This definition includes the internet, telephone, television or radio and ‘any of electronic or other technology for facilitating communication’.


Gambling – A Public Health Concern

Research and studies highlight quite clearly that gambling and its related harms are becoming more prevalent in today’s society. Social media has grown at a phenomenal pace and problem gambling is an ever-increasing concern.

Problem gambling is a growing epidemic which continues to affect millions of individuals of all ages in the UK and globally.

The frequency and styles of gambling have changed significantly in recent years. There is much easier access to the internet for young and old alike.

The Gambling Commission completed a study in November 2018. This reported that 14% of 11-16 ear olds gambled in the week prior to completing the study totalling 450,000 children. Consider for a moment that these are the children who took part, what about the children who didn’t?

Please take a moment to absorb the above information… now think about the existing 450,000 reported cases of adult problem gamblers in the UK and how social media is influencing our youth.

My question is ‘What does the future hold’?

If you are worried about your gambling or someone else’s gambling and how it’s affecting you, we can help.


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Gambling in the Workplace-A Social “Norm”?

Where it starts…

Thinking about gambling in the workplace as a social norm, let’s look back to see how this can happen…

It’s funny how we can trick ourselves into believing that because everyone else is doing something, then it must be okay!! I think that thought starts at quite a young age. Often as a kid, after a good ticking off, I would say “That’s not fair, all my friends do it”. My parent’s typical response was, “If your friends decided to jump off a cliff, would you do that too?” When I could, I would delight in saying, “You do it, so why can’t I?”

Sad but true, as a very young teen I smoked, I would watch a film or TV programme and some cool character would light up a cigarette and blow out plumes of smoke. Mahoosive trigger for me!! Nine times out of ten, shortly thereafter, I would pelt up to the bathroom have a quick puff and then frantically flap a towel about to get rid of the smoke. My parents smoked, so when I did sometimes get caught red-handed, the above would be my retort. (I was a bit of a  rebellious child!)

How it develops….

So we can think it’s okay to do things if the people around us are doing the same thing. We might then do whatever that may be, often without questioning whether it’s actually any good for us. We sometimes continue the activity despite being told or knowing that it’s actually bad for us. Whatever that thing is, this becomes the norm for us!

Activities often follow trends. The liquid lunch (still a given in some working cultures) is often slightly more frowned upon in some workplaces today. Cocaine became more prominent as a discreet substitute to the latter in the 80’s and 90’s. Still going on by many accounts: in some industries currently, alongside cocaine, the use of amphetamine and prescribed drugs like codeine phosphate is rife. This can lead to a reliance on substances to get through the working day.

Following on from that….

Gambling is currently the fastest growing addiction not just in the UK but also globally. Here in the UK that very scarily applies to children too. There are over 430, 000 known problematic gamblers in the UK and an estimated  3000, 000 more people at risk of becoming so. In actuality, the real figure of the latter is likely to be a lot higher as problematic gambling remains a very hidden addiction.

And now it seems that gambling is also happening in the workplace today. In fact, gambling has been a feature in the workplace for many years. Whether that’s a works’ outing to horse or dog races, nights out at the Casino or in house pools/consortiums for certain events, like football, the X Factor or Strictly.

What are contributing factors for gambling in the workplace becoming the new social norm….

The advancement of technology  in terms of gambling means that we can now do that 24/7. Most people now have smartphones and/or tablets with any amount of clever apps. This means they can gamble at home on the go and yes very definitely at work. In some industries, gambling forms part of the work culture. Colleagues chat about what they’re going to bet on, give tips, share good odds. As such it becomes something they have in common and builds their relationships.

The volume of advertisements related to gambling and the increase of gambling sponsorships in sport all culminate in making gambling seem part of our daily culture. When all your mates are doing the same thing, sometimes it’s difficult to spot when gambling is turning into a problem. Problem gambling potentially has hugely negative impacts for the person gambling, their family, friends, colleagues and employers.

Is this ringing any bells for you?

Are you worried about your own gambling behaviour?

Has gambling become the new social norm in your workplace?

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The links between Problem Gambling & Football

The History of Gambling – A brief glimpse

Gambling and football have always experienced a close-knit relationship and this article looks more closely at the links and how one influences the other and the impacts this has on the increase in problem gambling.

Firstly, let’s look more closely at the history of gambling which has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years in some form or another. The first casino or gambling house appeared in Italy in the 17th century. As gambling evolved throughout society, it became regulated resulting in more controlled gambling establishments popping up throughout the world.

Gambling was of interest to both the poor and wealthy. A poor man living in the slums of London could win some ‘ quick’ cash on a card game, rapidly leaving the slums to pastures new. Whereas the wealthy man could stake all of his money on betting, resulting in him having to move into the newly vacant slum.

In the 18th century, gambling and gin were the main ‘vices’ in London. The gambling clubs were renamed ‘hells’ and the gambling slums ‘lower hells’.

The History of Football and Gambling – Where it all began

Football has always enjoyed a close relationship with the gambling industry, from the modern-day to times gone past. Gambling was first legalised in the 1960s. Football pools were a very popular way to have a go at winning some money. I recall playing ‘spot the ball’ as a child. The fact that I was gambling did not cross my young mind. It was more about guessing right, which I don’t think I ever did.

Due to the changes in legislation, betting shops opened up in abundance. This resulted in the style of gambling changing also and not just being limited to pool betting. Throughout the 1990s, football betting started stepping out of the shadows and entered the mainstream due to the increased exposure that football had. Subsequently, opening the market to millions of new customers.

Sky Sports were the first company to buy the rights to screen Premier League fixtures. This was pivotal for football both for viewings and the financial gains. However, BT Sport soon jumped on the bandwagon followed more recently by Amazon winning a deal to ‘live stream’ exclusive coverage. The joint venture amounted to billions.  Research in recent years has highlighted the seriousness of gambling within the sporting world, specifically football.

How the Gambling Industry is influencing our ‘National Sport’

In today’s society, football is the most popular sport in the UK and considered its ‘national sport’. Anyone who is a fan of football (or not being the case), knows that gambling is an important and increasingly worrying part of today’s game. As we know, gambling has been around for centuries and throughout understandably, has had its problems.

The gambling industry is much more prominent in its role within football than ever before from sponsorships to advertising. There are growing concerns about the high percentage of clubs (approx 60%) in England’s top two divisions having the names of gambling establishments on their shirts. Furthermore, football clubs being named after online gambling sites. (bet365 formerly known as Stoke City FC).

Bookmakers, betting sites and online casinos are continuing to invest billions of pounds into football. The relationship between football and the gambling industry continues to grow rapidly when in actual fact, the relationship between football, it’s players, followers and the links to problematic gambling continue to grow at an alarmingly faster pace.

A Real Problem

Recently, the former midfielder Paul Merson talked candidly about his gambling addiction to Suzanna Reid and Piers Morgan on GMTV.  Paul talked about the financial losses of gambling and how he lost millions due to his addiction. He talked about being addicted to other substances also but said that his gambling issues were much ‘worse’.

As identified above, there is clear evidence that the gambling industry is central in today’s game. The relationship between gambling and football(ers) is a historical problem. However, currently, more and more people are coming forward and talking about their issues.

When interviewed anonymously, some top premier league team players admitted to gambling before a match to alleviate their boredom. They said ‘that when they lost a bet, this could have a negative effect on their performance during the game’. Some players admitted that when they gambled and lost before a match, this would affect their mood and they could underperform which would affect other team players during the match.

Time for Change

Recent research shows that problem gambling is on the increase with more than 480,000 known problematic gamblers in the UK.

However, are the above figures a true reflection of the extent of the problem? The Gambling Commission reported a staggering two million people being addicted to gambling, or at risk of developing a problem in 2017.

There’s a recognition that the links between football and the gambling industry have negative impacts whether directly or indirectly, on people from all walks of life.

Is it time for the gambling industry to finally take some responsibility and consider the person who is losing his or her job, house, relationship, or even mental well-being due to their gambling addiction and the ‘lack of restrictions’ in place that enables individuals to gamble their wages or even their houses away in one bet.

On a more positive note, awareness of the extent of the problem is growing and Sky Bet has invested one million into a responsible gambling education and awareness programme. This programme is for the players and staff from the  EFL clubs only.

On reflection and given the extent of the problem, ask yourself is there enough being done for the 480,000 problem gamblers in this country? The people who contribute towards the millions of pounds made in the gambling industry.

If you’re worried about your gambling or someone else gambling and how this may be affecting you, Click here.

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The Worrying Incline of Online Gambling

I have worked for many years now counselling problem gamblers and the people around them also affected by their addiction. It has been really good in recent years to see the media highlighting problem gambling topics. It’s an issue we are incredibly passionate about knowing, first-hand, the profound and often devastating impact problematic gambling has on the  gambler and the people in their everyday life. The ripple effect of one person’s problematic gambling can go a very long way. The worrying incline of online gambling is only going to compound that.

Self-Exclusion – What’s the Conclusion?


As we continue to strive to help people to manage when their gambling is becoming out of control, I wonder how we could improve self-exclusion, what’s the conclusion that could work more effectively.

Historically, when self-excluding from a street bookmaker you would typically have to go to a betting shop armed with passport photo’s. Far from ideal and not cheap at the best of times as each place required 2 of them!! Then, if lucky, you may have been able to self exclude from up to 7 bookies within each company. That varied depending on each companies policy and would usually be less. You would need to do this for each and every different company you used proving tiresome, humiliating and expensive and risky.