Bookmakers in the UK are teaming up with the Association of the British Bookmakers (ABB) in Scotland to create a problem gambling program, a move parliament is welcoming.
Ladbrokes and William Hill are going one step further in terms of problem gambling policies with this new initiative, known as Merkinch Gamble Support Week.
The program targets the Inverness city of Merkinch, making it the first of its kind in Scotland.
Merkinch Gamble Support Week aims to provide an insight into problem gambling behaviour and offers a number of free, no appointment necessary, counselling sessions at the city’s Welfare Hall.
The bookmakers and the ABB Scotland also offers posters and leaflets on responsible gambling in both English and Polish. The information also details how to get help and effective tools for problem gambling.
A spokesman for the ABB Scotland, Donald Morrison, said in a press release that while the issue of problem gambling in the country isn’t as prominent as other UK countries “it is an issue we take extremely seriously.”
“Projects like this help to raise awareness about the support networks that exist for people with problems,” Morrison added.
“I would encourage anyone with concerns about gambling – regardless of where and how they gamble – to take advantage of the counselling support available, either in person or by calling the National Gambling Helpline.”
There have been strong concerns voiced by anti-bookmaker organisations and charity groups regarding the number of bookies in the area allowing easy access to gambling services.
One charity in particular, For The Right Reasons, which provides counselling and support to rehabilitating drug addicts, wants to reduce the number of bookmakers in the area.
“We have had tremendous logistical support for this initiative from local community groups, particularly For the Right Reasons, and I am extremely grateful for the contribution they have made,” Morrison added.
“This is the first project of its kind in Scotland and we hope we can roll out similar initiatives in neighbourhoods and communities across Scotland.”
Conservative MSP, Margaret Mitchell, said on her website “that the Parliament welcomes the new outreach project from the Association of British Bookmakers in Scotland”.
The program also raises awareness regarding problem gambling at a young age, as MSP Mitchell highlighted, along with the “heightened risk of development problems adulthood”.
Merkinch Gamble Support Week will also result in a number of ongoing initiatives including counsellors speaking to senior students at Inverness High School about the risks associated with gambling.
MSP Mitchell said Parliament recognises the campaign “encourages young people and their parents to contact the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 if they have concerns about problem gambling.”
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