There is a ‘mismatch’ between the number of people with gambling problems in Nottingham and those who are asking for help.
Only 48 people in an entire year requested support through a helpline in Nottingham, despite the “huge scale, problem and need” in the city.
The comments were made at Nottingham City Council’s health and wellbeing board on March 29.
Helen Johnston, Consultant in Public Health said the figures were “likely to be a substantial underestimate of the problem”.
She said: “What we note is that actually in a year’s time period, the number of callers to the GamCare helpline, which is often the first point of interaction, there were 48 calls in a whole year.
“There are very small numbers of people who are engaging with that advertised support.”
It comes as a new gambling clinic is expected to open in Derby next month, supporting people across the East Midlands.
There are only a small number of these NHS clinics in England.
GamCare helpline data for April 2021 to March 2022 revealed that there were only 48 callers making a total of 59 calls from a Nottingham postcode during this period.
A report for the meeting stated:
“This is a significant mismatch between earlier prevalence estimates and those seeking support via the national helpline, notwithstanding its likely underestimation of harmful gambling prevalence.
“Despite expanding support, there are far fewer people reaching out for help in Nottingham than the estimated number of people affected. This is likely explained by the stigma associated with gambling, where guilt, shame and isolation keep the situation concealed until serious harm has occurred.”
Most of the callers were men aged 26 to 45 and most had some level of debt.
They had reported issues with online gambling – including casino slots, casino table games, and sports events – and bookmakers.
Callers referenced impacts on financial difficulties, mental health, emotional wellbeing and relationship problems.
Current or prior thoughts of suicide were reported by 23 per cent of the callers.
It is predicted that people living in Bulwell, Clifton, East, Bestwood, Bilborough, Aspley and St Ann’s are the most at risk of developing a gambling problem.
“Gambling premises are most clustered in the city centre and areas of deprivation and vulnerability to gambling-related harm”, the report adds.
The main support service nationally is the GamCare helpline and webchat which can connect people to the right type of support.
Gambling Commission and ONS data from 2020 suggests that around 1 in 250 people aged 16 and over in Nottingham are estimated to have a gambling problem.
But the data has “important limitations” because the national statistics have been applied to a local population to provide an estimate.
It is likely the statistics are an underestimate of the true scale of the problem.
There are an estimated 4,497 people aged 16 and over in Nottingham with a gambling problem.
And the data suggests that there are almost 1,000 11-16-year-olds in Nottingham with a gambling problem.
Ms Johnston said: “This is survey data and I will note that this is likely to be quite a substantial underestimate of the problem.”
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