GamCare: Young gamblers aren’t aware of when it ‘becomes harmful’

GamCare, which operates the National Gambling Helpline, is warning of the ‘imminent need’ to talk to young people about gambling risks, amidst more than 7 in 10 (71.5%) calls to the helpline from under-18s being from those experiencing a gambling issue. GamCare’s ‘BigDeal’ website is the dedicated hub for young people where they can find information, advice and support if they’re concerned about themselves or a loved ones gambling. ‘BigDeal’ also offers support to parents and training to those who work with young people, such as teachers, youth workers and social workers.

To highlight the impact of gambling on a young person’s brain development, GamCare invited Rhys, whose friend lost thousands of pounds gambling during a long-term gambling addiction, to go inside his own brain (scanned using MRI while betting on an online roulette table) using a custom-built virtual reality world. This awe-inspiring experience helped him to see, with his own eyes, exactly what happens in our brains when we gamble and, in particular, the processes involved in driving his friend’s addiction. In the video, boxer and YouTuber Viddal Riley and Dr Jack Lewis discuss how the reward pathway, located in one of the oldest, central parts of the human brain, is responsible for driving all our decisions. They look at how regular gambling causes changes in its wiring to encourage more frequent betting and higher stakes despite the heavy losses. Neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis, who scanned Rhys’s brain and presented the VR film, explains more. He

said: “When you place a bet, the part of the brain that’s most interested are three interconnected areas that make up the core of the reward pathway. The reward pathway is instrumental to every decisions we humans make whether deciding what we want for dinner or what kind of bet is most likely to give us a win.

“In the context of gambling, the trouble starts when a certain type of loss causes the reward pathway to become more active rather than less. The culprits are “near misses” – situations where your bet doesn’t come in, but it feels like a close call. A last minute equaliser in a football match or leading horse taking a fall in the final furlong often means a loss of money to the gambler – but the excitement these “near misses” generate in the outer reaches of the reward pathway nonetheless makes people come back again and again. “Teenagers are much more vulnerable to developing addictive behaviours due to natural increases in dopamine sensitivity in the reward pathway at this stage of their development. This increases their appetite for taking risks and that’s why it’s illegal to gamble until you are 18.” Boxer and Youtuber Viddal Riley, 23, has backed ‘Big Deal’ and recognises the importance of getting information out to young people so they understand support is available. He said: “Young people need more support to be educated on what they can do when gambling can harmful, knowing when things aren’t OK or being aware of what could

happen down the line.”

“As a boxer, I know betting is a big part of my sport, and watching a match is often a family moment. And as a Youtuber, I know young people spend a lot of time online and it can easily lead to things getting out of control.

“It’s really important that young people have the resources and support to be educated in the choices they make. I hope young people search BigDeal online to help them make that that call – whether it’s for themselves, a friend or parent.” Anna Hemmings, CEO of GamCare, said: “Since lockdown, we’ve not only heard stories from our helpline that reveal young people are increasingly experiencing more parental gambling but there is also rising concern for potential harms to young people who gamble themselves.

“It’s been an extremely difficult year for young people, with many using the internet and social media not only to be in touch with friends, but also as a form of escapism. This makes it harder for parents to tell when their child might be displaying unhealthy behaviours, as often the symptoms, such as being withdrawn, can be confused with other issues and challenges teenagers face in this difficult period of their lives.

“That’s why we hope BigDeal will be a resource that speaks to young people in plain terms on the core issues related to gambling, the harms they could encounter, plus how they can get further support from our helpline.”

Half of Gen Z targeted in digital fraud attempts

TransUnion’s Consumer Pulse Study has found that a third (33%) of UK consumers say they have been targeted in a digital fraud attempt related to COVID-19 in the last three months, though just 4% fell victim to the scams. This represents a steady increase from when the pandemic began, with just under a quarter (24%) saying the same in April 2020, with 6% falling victim.

Gen Z adults, born 1995 to 2002, are the most targeted by fraudsters out of any in the UK, at 51%. They also appear to be more likely than other generations to have fallen victim, with 19% of the identified scams being successful. They are followed by Millennials, with 37% having been targeted in a digital fraud attempt and 16% of those becoming victims.

Among consumers in the UK targeted with digital fraud related to COVID-19, the most common scam is phishing, accounting for just under half (48%) of fraud attempts.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been yet another example of fraudsters looking to take advantage of a significant world event and use it to scam UK consumers. The almost overnight transition online brought about by stay-at-home orders catapulted

the country’s digital acceleration like we’ve never seen before,” said John Cannon, managing director, fraud and ID at TransUnion in the UK. “As we see digital fraud impacting a substantial portion of the population, it’s important to keep in mind the significant progress made in protecting businesses and consumers from attempts like this. In fact, UK Finance notes that while fraud volumes have increased in the last year, overall financial losses saw a decrease of 5% compared to 2019.” The online gaming industry is a prime example of an industry facing rising numbers of transactions as in-person options for participation were closed off and overall participation from consumers rose through the year. Unfortunately, this was accompanied by rising fraud rates. Through its TruValidate solution, TransUnion documented 19% growth in transactions among its global iGaming customers from 2019 to 2020, likely due to an increase in activity on customer platforms, and recently researched its fraud impact in a special report. Globally, it determined that its online gambling customers experienced a 9% increase in the rate of suspected fraud among the 576 million

iGaming transactions TransUnion analysed for risk indicators last year.

This growth aligns with industry figures which registered a significant increase in UK consumers gambling online last year. In the year to December 2020, nearly a quarter (24%) of UK adults had gambled online in the previous four weeks, up from 21% in 2019.

Adam Hancox, head of gaming for TransUnion in the UK and Europe said: “As more people turn to online platforms for gaming, either as a natural evolution of their engagement with the industry or as a result of COVID-19 limiting the chances for betting in person, it’s absolutely crucial that providers are operating a protective, secure environment. Recognising an increase in fraud attempts in gaming, as well as the high rate of consumers reporting digital fraud attempts, operators need to ensure they are keeping pace with the latest technology and fraud prevention solutions.”

Some 69% of online gambling transactions come from mobile devices. Download the report here: igaming-report/

GIO MAY 2021 5

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