Gambling

Gambling addiction is when betting and other activities such as playing slot machines have control over the person gambling, as opposed to the other way round, to the extent of it being harmful. It is thought that as many as 1 in 3 people in the UK are addicted to something, including gambling.

What are the signs and risks of a gambling addiction?

Signs of gambling addiction include:

  • Betting more than the person can afford
  • Chasing losses, or trying to win back lost bets
  • Borrowing money or selling things to get money for gambling
  • Progressive need to increase bets in order to get the same ‘rush’
  • Feelings of guilt surrounding gambling
  • Entering into financial difficulty as a result of gambling
  • Gambling having caused health problems, such as stress or anxiety
  • Damaged relationships as a result of other people’s concern for the person’s gambling.

How is a gambling addiction treated?

Cognitive behavioural therapy is often recommended and allows the person to talk through how their behaviours and thoughts are linked and what they might be able to do to stop thoughts which lead them to gamble.

Medicine can be prescribed to help the mental side effects (anxietydepression, etc.), such as an SSRI.

Some people attend residential courses where they cannot gamble and can work on treating the addiction with the help of professionals.

Group therapy can also help some people with addictions, as mutual support and discussion can help them feel like they are not alone. Mental health issues and feelings of isolation in people with addictions are common and are factored into treatment.

There are a few ways to confirm what sort of reasonable adjustments should be made for an employee with a gambling addiction:

An employer is legally obliged to make reasonable adjustments for their employee with gambling addiction issues under certain conditions:

  • If an existing mental health condition has limited the extent to which they can be held responsible for developing an addiction or dependency (a medical report can determine whether the employer will need to make reasonable adjustments for this underlying condition, for example stress, which may have led the employee to develop gambling problems)
  • If the employee has developed a condition as a result of their addiction which is covered by the Equality Act, such as depressionanxietycancers, etc.

What reasonable adjustments are possible for employees with a gambling addiction?

Employers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees with a gambling addiction if they know, are aware of, or could ‘reasonably be expected to know’ that the employee has gambling addiction and their situation can be explained by one of the above reasons. Most employees will tell their employer what reasonable adjustments they need. They often involve simple changes in the way an employer might usually do things.

If the employee does not disclose a health issue or disability which may affect their performance up front, an employer should broach the subject sensitively if they suspect that there may be a disability behind the employee’s reduced performance. Reasonable adjustments can then be made in accordance with the employee’s needs and if their situation is covered by the Equality Act, including, in the case of gambling addiction:

  • Flexible working hours to accommodate medical appointments and attendance of residential courses.
  • Adjustments to duties depending on other conditions or symptoms which may have developed as a result of the employee’s addiction, namely stress and anxiety.
  • Raising awareness so that colleagues understand the employee’s gambling addiction and can help ensure the employee feels comfortable at work, as well as raising awareness of the risk factors such as stress or other mental health issues which can lead to addiction.

Gambling addiction Signposting

Action on Addiction – charity providing advice, treatment and family support to those affected by all types of addiction, as well as conducting research into treatment and improving the provision of services in the UK (0300 330 0659).

GamCare charity providing advice, support and information for people affected by problem gambling, including questionnaires to help someone determine whether their gambling could be classed as a problem. (0808 8020 133).

Gamblers Anonymous – organisation empowering people with a gambling addiction to share their experiences and help themselves and others by doing this through online forums, group video meetings and online resources (0330 094 0322).

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