GamCare – could a sharp increase in contact be a positive thing?

GamCare – could a sharp increase in contact be a positive thing?
Paul Clare
by Paul Clare Last updated:

GamCare’s National Gambling Helpline service experienced a record-breaking 2023, receiving more calls than in any previous year. On the surface this probably sounds like alarm bells starting to ring, but might this actually be a positive step forward in the battle to protect vulnerable gamblers?

A busy year for GamCare

  • The helpline received 52,370 calls
  • Call volume up 24% against 2022
  • August the busiest month on record
  • December saw a 39% increase versus prior year
  • Increase in calls regarding other people’s gambling behaviour in December

The regional-first National Gambling Support Network also launched in 2023, as did GambleAware’s ‘Let’s Open Up About Gambling’ stigma reduction campaign. 

GamCare also issued self-exclusion blocking software to almost 7,000 people, in association with Gamban and GAMSTOP.

In addition to receiving a record-breaking number of calls, GamCare launched a WhatsApp channel and responded to an additional 6,000 enquiries through it. 

Economical factors may have had an impact – 117 callers cited the cost-of-living crisis as having a direct influence on their gambling behaviours

These initiatives by Gamcare, alongside various other factors, are likely to have encouraged players to open up, contributing to the increase in calls.

A change for the better?

These stats may look stark at first glance, but some positive conclusions can be drawn

On one hand, this data could suggest problem gambling is on the rise. However, UK Gambling Commission reports state that problem gambling remains “statistically stable at 0.3 percent” of the adult population. 

Therefore, taboos breaking down, and problem gamblers being increasingly forthcoming, are likely explanations for the increase. 

This is undoubtedly a good thing for both players and industry. As society opens up and discussion of issues like problem gambling become less taboo, individuals feel more empowered to acknowledge and talk through their issues.

A recent report commissioned by GambleAware highlighted the importance of discussing problematic gambling behaviours. As stigma reduces, charities can implement more effective treatments and interventions, especially in terms of preventative measures.

Samantha Turnton, GamCare’s Head of Remote Support Services, sees the uptick representing “a landmark climb in people reaching out who want to start their recovery journey from gambling".

Supporting Turnton's assertion, National Gambling Helpline Advisors reported more calls from people at earlier stages. This indicates problem gamblers, those impacted and the wider population is more open to discussing the issues than in the past. It also means that GamCare can assist or intervene earlier in some cases,

Hoorah for GamCare!

That more people are willing to ask for help is a testament to support infrastructures within the British gambling industry. By talking, problems can be brought out into the open for discussion and addressed in a responsible, sensitive way.

GamCare offers 24/7, judgement-free support for players in the UK, and they’re great at what they do. British gamblers are fortunate to have such a robust system of invaluable organisations ready to provide help if they need it.

Anti-gambling organisations made various sweeping criticisms of Safer Gambling Week 2023. In reality though, the annual event was a success, raising awareness and generating 500,000 visits to the Safer Gambling website.

Anna Hargrave, GambleAware’s Chief Commissioning and Strategy Officer, also commented on the increase in usage of GamCare’s services. Hargrave highlighted the services’ ability to actually help players.

“9 in 10 patients saw an improvement after completing treatment."

The work done by GamCare and other organisations is vital. It enables the British gambling industry to thrive at the same time as providing support to those players who may need it from time to time. And it should be remembered that a thriving UK gambling industry provides employment to tens of thousands and generates significant tax revenues for the government.

Looking ahead

The future is shaping up to be relatively free from judgement and stigma, making Britain’s already-effective gambling charities even more so. 

New legislation is on the way which is expected to further enhance protection and treatment for problem gamblers. However, regulators need to be wary of isolating the majority who gamble safely. 

Measures such as the mandatory levy should prove impactful and charities like GamCare hope that additional funds come their way as a result, 

Hargrave went on to insist that services like GamCare receive solid funding moving forward. 

“These support services need to be prioritised within the new system once the statutory gambling levy is introduced."

She also highlights the importance of early interventions, which GamCare and GambleAware will likely focus on in future campaigns.


It’s important to talk, and British gamblers have several excellent resources at their disposal. It’s also worth familiarising yourself with the warning signs, such as chasing losses, borrowing to fund wagers, gambling secretly, or spending beyond your means. 

If you or someone close to you has been adversely affected by gambling, consider contacting one of the following:

Concluding her statement on the National Gambling Helpline’s busiest year, Turnton stated, “We want people to know we are here for you 24/7, we understand, and we can help.”

Paul Clare
by Paul Clare Last updated:

Paul spent plenty of time in arcades up and down the UK discovering all of the best fruit machines and watching them grow into the incredible online slots we see today. He still loves the basic format but also has a soft spot for games with big bonus rounds that progress as you play. Immortal Romance is one of his favourite slots of all time.