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Stigma programme

The impact of stigma on gambling harms

Stigma is a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something.


Stigma is a barrier to seeking help


Stigma has been linked to poorer mental health outcomes, with people experiencing feelings of shame, embarrassment and other negative self-beliefs.

Particularly, because people are worried about being stigmatised and discriminated against by friends, family, or service and healthcare providers, it is one of the biggest barriers to them seeking help and identifying that gambling is having a negative impact on them.


You can help to reduce gambling-related stigma. Let's open up about gambling.

Language and stigma

Language plays a big role in driving discrimination by using reductive terms, for example: ‘problem gambler’, ‘gambling addict’, ‘compulsive gambler’. Terms like these reduce someone’s identity to their behaviour, labelling them as the problem or person to blame. 

Alternative terms include ‘person who experiences gambling harms’ or ‘person who has problems with gambling’. These terms reassure that those experiencing harm are not defined by it, or to blame. 

Our language guide provides more details and tips on how to use destigmatising language. 

Challenge stigmatising language
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At-risk communities

People who are members of other marginalised and minority communities experience other forms of stigma. Additionally, research shows that already marginalised communities are more likely to struggle with gambling. 

Of those who experience significant harm from gambling, a disproportionate number are more likely to reside in areas of higher deprivation, belong to ethnic minority backgrounds  and report lower sociodemographic characteristics.

These minority communities therefore experience compound, intersectional stigma, and in addition these communities face greater health harms associated with their gambling harms.  

Understand the barriers faced by minority communities

What we're doing to reduce stigma

Stigma is ubiquitous through society, and so reducing and challenging stigma takes time and needs a joint approach with the public, media, government, gambling operators, support providers and healthcare professionals. 

GambleAware is leading a cross-organisational programme to reduce stigma including a multimedia campaign, research grants to build evidence in the area, GP awareness training, digital tools, language guides and more. 

Challenging the stigma of gambling harms – an animation
Challenging the stigma of gambling harms – an animation
Challenging the stigma of gambling harms – an animation

Stigma reduction campaign

We are proud to launch a major new public health campaign aiming to reduce the stigma associated with gambling harms. The campaign has been developed in response to the significant evidence that stigma is a barrier to people self-identifying as experiencing gambling harms; a barrier to accessing support and a source of harm. 

Read the background research
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Partner toolkit

You, or your organization, can support our campaign to reduce stigma associated with gambling harms, with our Partner Toolkit. It provides advice, messages and assets to share across your own channels (social media, website, emails, etc) and with your own networks.

Support our stigma campaign

Media guidelines

Gambling is a major public health concern and is therefore a subject that is very much in the public interest. Given the influential role the media plays, we have developed guidelines in order to promote and support responsible media reporting on gambling harms. They are based on the latest research, insights from gambling harms experts and feedback from affected communities.

Report responsibly
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Research and funding

Royal College of General Practitioners

We are currently working with Royal College of GPs (RCGP) on developing a curriculum, a second part of a triad of interventions aiming to improve the role adequacy of GPs and their teams.

There is significant unmet need amongst GPs when it comes to engaging people experiencing gambling harms. While around 42,000 people contact the National Gambling Helpline for support each year, only a small number go on to engage with structured treatment options rather than more informal support. This can happen for two reasons:

1. People are unaware of the treatment and support on offer, and therefore haven’t being referred to treatment or support by GPs

2. They have internalised stigma or perceived stigma from those within the healthcare system, who have not identified gambling harms as a concern 

Stigma research 

Since further research is needed to break down the barrier of stigma faced by people in accessing services, and to reduce gambling harms including the harm of stigmatisation and the discrimination it drives, GambleAware has funded research to build knowledge about the lived experience of communities of people who experience gambling harms of stigmatisation and discrimination they experience. 

This research will establish how people who experience gambling harms are stigmatised in society in Great Britain (and how to measure the stigmatisation of gambling harms), and what their lived experience is of stigmatisation, alongside establishing a matrix of stigmatising language and constructs around gambling harms.


GambleAware awards £350,000 grant to fund research into gambling stigmatisation and discrimination

Find out more

A scoping review to build knowledge of stigma related gambling and gambling harms in Great Britain

Learn more