The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) has launched a ‘first of its kind’ community initiative in the Merkinch area of Inverness to promote responsible gambling and provide counselling support for anyone concerned about their gambling activity.
Titled the ‘Merkinch Gamble Support Week’ this social initiative is the result of a partnership between the Association of British Bookmakers in Scotland (ABB Scotland) and Merkinch based charity For the Right Reasons. The two parties have joined forces with bookmakers William Hill and Ladbrokes to deliver a programme of responsible gambling initiatives in the Merkinch area from 19 to 23 June, with support from Paisley based charity RCA Trust, specialists in providing advice, education and counselling support.
The campaign will include advice on responsible gambling in local betting shops, confidential counselling sessions in Merkinch and presentations to school pupils at nearby Inverness High School on the risks associated with problem gambling.
This is the first time ABB Scotland has launched a responsible gambling campaign centred on a specific community. If successful, it will serve as a model for future responsible gambling initiatives elsewhere in Scotland.
Donald Morrison, spokesman for ABB Scotland said: “More than two third of Scots’ gamble and the vast majority do so for fun. Problem gambling in Scotland is low – at 0.7% – and falling, according to the Scottish Government’s own figures. Nevertheless, we are determined to take the lead in promoting responsible gambling and do more to support those who get into difficulty at a national and local level.
“We have been talking to community groups, charities and local authorities across Scotland about the possibility of launching community-based responsible gambling campaigns to complement the work we do at a national level. For the Right Reasons have been the most receptive and so we agreed to work with them to develop and fund this pilot project as part of our continuing commitment to promote responsible gambling.
“This is the first time we have run a responsible gambling campaign in Scotland centred on a specific community. Hopefully, it will serve as a model for other areas.”
Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart, who recently visited the Ladbrokes and William Hill shops in the area and grew up in Merkinch, is backing the campaign.
He said: “All of us enjoy a flutter from time to time, whether it’s at the bingo, on the National Lottery or at the local bookie. For the vast majority of people, gambling is a fun experience but for some people it can become a problem. I’m encouraged that the latest figures from the Scottish Government show a drop in the level of problem gambling.
“However, there is no room for complacency and it is important that we continue to promote responsible gambling messages and provide support for those who get into difficulty. I therefore welcome the launch of this campaign in Merkinch, the first of its kind in Scotland. I would encourage anyone who is concerned about their gambling to take advantage of the support being offered.”
Richard Burkitt, Director of For the Right Reasons, commented on the campaign “While the majority of people gamble for fun, a small number experience problems and it’s important that the gambling industry does more to support those who get into difficulty. ABB Scotland has worked closely with us to develop this pilot project and we look forward to further such campaigns in the future.”