Place your bets!

Just recently I met a lovely lady on an open programme I was running for the CIPD.  She works in the HR Department of the Colony Club in Mayfair, London.  I was immediately intrigued as my own grandfather had worked at the club many years ago when it was owned by Hollywood Film Star, George Raft.  Those were glamorous times for my grandparents, until he lost two houses that he owned in London in a poker game one evening …  So, when Monika extended Karen and I an invitation to visit the club I felt we couldn’t say no.

We were warmly welcomed and given a tour round and stayed for two of the most amazing cocktails I’ve ever had, topped with wonderful service from our delightful waitress.  Monika told us that she had been chosen by her employer (Genting Casinos who now own the club) to represent them in the Great Wall of China Challenge this April.  Her task is to raise money for the Responsible Gambling Trust by trekking for 5 days between 6 to 14kms per day up and over the stony and windy paths of the Great Wall.

Given my Grandfather’s past exploits I felt compelled to find out more.  I wanted to know if gambling was really a problem in the UK and in particular what did it mean for employers in the UK if anything?  Here are some of the staggering facts I uncovered:

  • Problem gambling is the fastest growing addiction both in the UK and globally
  • Approximately 76% of the adult population in the UK gambled in some capacity in 2013
  • There are a minimum of 600,000 problem gamblers in the UK that we know of
  • It is estimated that problem gambling cost UK businesses £34 billion in 2011 through fraud, theft, absenteeism and loss of time and this figure is said to be rising as problem gambling increases over recent years
  • Women now represent 25% of problem gamblers – a sharp increase in the last 5 years that has coincided with gambling advertisements and sponsorship of popular day time TV programmes
  • The typical debt of a compulsive or pathological gambler is said to be around £60,000
  • There are an estimated 60,000 problem gamblers in the UK aged between 11 and 15

I also discovered that In March 2013 compulsive and pathological gambling was redefined from a compulsion to a mental health disorder.  This has serious implications from an HR perspective in terms of duty of care and responsibility for employees at work.

New forms of gambling (i.e. over the internet, on hand-held devices) can mean it is often very difficult for warning signs to be picked up.  It takes less than 12 seconds to log onto a digital device and place a bet!  Although approximately 85% of businesses in the UK have policies for handling drug and alcohol use at work – only 5% have policies on gambling.  With these statistics employers should seriously consider writing a policy immediately if they don’t already have something in place.

This is just a snap shot of the problem out there.  The responsible Gambling Trust helps to raise awareness that although gambling can be fun it can also be harmful and money raised for the Trust helps to fund research, education, prevention and treatment of gambling addiction.

Change Gear has been invited along to Monika’s fund raising party in April before the trip and we will certainly be sponsoring her on her fantastic challenge for this worthwhile cause.  And if we have a flutter, it will certainly be a responsible one…

If you would like to sponsor Monika too her fundraising page is

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