'People don't see it as a issue until it spirals out of control' - concern about online gambling ahead of Euros
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With the Euros just around the corner, a counsellor from Suffolk fears football fans that are struggling financially may think one lucky bet will help them out of their current situation.
Concerns have also been raised regarding the number of people that have turned to gambling on cryptocurrency as a way of coping with the coronavirus pandemic.
Acknowledging the problems with online betting, Glenda D Roberts, director of ExploringU Counselling and JustTalk2019 based in Sudbury, says there is no "shame or guilt" in admitting you have a problem with gambling.
As adverts for online gambling dominate television screens ahead of Euro 2020, Ms Roberts has reached out to those that might be tempted to bet online during the tournament.
She said: "People think potentially they could win some money and pay off their credit card.
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"Then they might have a lucky break and what can happen is they think 'I did it that time, I can do it again', and before they know it, it becomes an addiction."
She added: " Young people can get into a repeated cycle because of boredom.
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"It becomes a big, big problem - what we are finding is a lot of people don't see it an issue until it spirals out of control - they don't realise they are addicted to gambling until it really starts to impact their lives."
However, Ms Roberts, who is an accredited member of the British Association For Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), is not only concerned about online gambling during Euro 2020.
During the coronavirus pandemic she has been shocked by the number of people gambling away thousands of pounds on the cryptocurrency market.
Ms Roberts believes that those getting involved with the world of cryptocurrency don't often see it is a from of gambling.
" The problem with the crypto stuff is that it is so easily accessible," added Ms Roberts.
" It can be done on the move, in the car, or on your lunchbreak from work.
"These young people are losing so much more money than traditional gambling, we are talking tens of thousands of pounds.
" It is taking a lot for people to contact us because they feel shame associated with their addiction."
Sanctuary Lodge in Halstead is a rehabilitation centre that treats people from Suffolk and Essex.
Nuno Albuquerque, who leads gambling treatment at Sanctuary Lodge said: "Unfortunately we are seeing an upwards trend in the number of enquiries for the treatment of gambling addiction in Suffolk and the surrounding areas.
"Our facility Sanctuary Lodge has been hit hard with requests for help since the end of the first national lockdown, as more and more people develop behavioural disorders and unhealthy relationships with gambling.
"Turning to gambling during the pandemic has been some people's way of coping; just in the same way as others turn to alcohol, exercise or food.
"For some, gambling will have provided escapism and excitement at a time of fear and uncertainty, but the more the brain enjoys something, the more it craves it, and this where dependency sets in.
"It's so important to ask for help as soon as you can, before it completely takes over your life."
Where can people with a gambling addiction turn to for support?
If you are worried that you have an addiction to online gambling, Just Talk2019 is an affordable counselling service based in Sudbury.
You can speak to a trainee counsellor in a safe and confidential environment - more details can be found here.
Sanctuary Lodge provide a 24/7 confidential live chat and free call-back service on their website - you can get in touch with them here.