GamCare launches Big Deal campaign to advise university students on the risk of problem gambling

The UK’s responsible gambling charity GamCare has launched its Big Deal campaign which aims to advise university students on the risks that come with problem gambling.

This comes after the charity reported an influx of calls following an interview with former Premier League footballer Paul Merson, back in September.

The Big Deal campaign

GamCare has launched its Big Deal campaign to help advise university students on the risks of problem gambling and the support networks available to those who are concerned about gambling.

The Big Deal campaign was launched as university students returned to campus following the disruption of 2020 and 2021’s coronavirus lockdown on student life in the UK. 

GamCare’s campaign was designed on the recommendations of lived experience feedback, in which former victims of problem gambling shared experiences during their time at university.

During freshers week in September, GamCare launched a campus-focused campaign to warn students of the signs of impulsive gambling behaviours.

In its announcement, GamCare highlighted the importance of targeting young people at the transitional ages of 18-to-21 before gambling habits become normalised.

GamCare also said that this autumn, it will work with the Young Adult Advisory Board to further develop the campaign. This is intended to help raise awareness of gambling-related harms facing people aged 18 to 25 and to support them specialised resources.

Alexa Roseblade, Senior Programme Manager, at GamCare discusses why student gambling is rife during this transitional period: “During this time of transition many young people are entering environments where gambling can be the norm – but there’s a lack of knowledge on how to recognise gambling harm or know where to turn to for support. We know from our Young Person’s Gambling Harm Prevention programme that many young people view gambling as a way to make money, yet this belief can leave many empty-pocketed at key points in the university cycle.

“There are many key drivers that contribute to this issue amongst students – having more time, personal independence and financial freedom with easy access to overdrafts and loans can encourage increased gambling behaviours. We launched BigDeal, a website to inform young people of the support on hand and importantly reassure them they are not alone.”

What has GamCare been up to?

In mid-September, the charity reported that its helpline received an influx of calls following former footballer Paul Merson’s interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB).

During the interview, the former footballer opened up about his experience with gambling addiction and the harmful impact it had on his family and loved ones.

Shortly after the interview, the charity GamCare reported a “sudden influx” of calls to the service.

One of GamCare’s helpline advisors praised Merson’s interview, explaining that his story is “synonymous with many of the calls the charity had received over lockdown.”

The charity noted that issues such as relapsing into gambling during the pandemic, losing house deposits due to gambling-related debt, and how blocking software had been helpful have been regularly cited by callers over the past year.

In August, the charity also teamed up with PayPlan, to pilot a new initiative to connect people affected by gambling-related debt with expert specialist advice at PayPlan via referrals.