With the nation in a third national lockdown, the temptation to gamble may be higher than ever, according to one former addict.
The reformed gambler, who lost £500,000 at the height of his addiction, now posts on social media to discourage others from gambling under the name of GamblingGuard to protect his identity.
He believes students who have just started their university courses and who are now in lockdown are amongst the most vulnerable to temptation.
“Addiction thrives on isolation”
GamblingGuard believes that isolation periods makes staying away from gambling apps even tougher.
“What addiction thrives on is isolation, and for the last 12 months no one is seeing their friends, family or colleagues as much as they would be and it makes everyone more at risk,” he said.
GamblingGuard on the impact that isolation has on addiction
He has warned, with universities not set to reopen until at least March, many students will find themselves with few options when it comes to entertainment. And with a student loan in their pocket, online gambling is one way of passing the time.
He is critical of betting companies, often supported by celebrities and famous sports clubs and organisation, who he believes are cashing-in on vulnerable customers during the pandemic.
And gambling support website, Gamcare is also concerned that students are at risk of developing an addiction.
“Faced with so many new and potentially scary experiences all at once, gambling can become a fun way to fill that void and to socialise. However, this is often a false sense of control and belonging,” the website warns.
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Promoting gambling is not exclusive to just bookies, however, with social media allowing people to boast about their success with their latest bets.
One TikTok account, @gamblingstudentloans, is dedicated to staking the entirety of a student loan in online casino games.
According to GamblingGuard, this is just one side of the story. “People will always tell you when they win, but you should challenge your friends and make them uncomfortable, because six days out of the week they will be losing just as much money.”
The Gambling Commission offers a range of support guides to ensure people gamble safely, including how to limit the number of gambling-related posts that people see on social media.