GambleAware 7th Annual Conference

December 18, 2019

On December 5th, the Gambling Education Hub team attended the GambleAware 7th Annual Conference in London.

This year’s programme theme was keeping children and young people safe from gambling harm.

Opening keynote speeches were followed by four panel discussions, with the opportunity for the audience to pose questions.

Our Project Manager Chiara Marin took part in the first afternoon panel, addressing prevention initiatives for young people in formal and informal education settings. Other guest speakers included Conor Maxwell from Universal Connections in South Lanarkshire, the Youth Outreach Coordinator of the Big Deal (run by GamCare) and representatives of the PSHE Association.

The session was opened by Jonathan Baggaley, CEO of the PSHE Association, who presented their new teacher handbook: ‘How to address gambling through PSHE education’, developed in collaboration with GambleAware.

Panel members then offered an overview of the programmes run in England and Scotland. This was a valuable opportunity to share information on approaches being used to promote gambling education and prevention with and for young people.

We were delighted to have Conor Maxwell joining our Project Manager in representing Scotland.

Conor attended one of our initial CPD sessions two years ago and, following that, developed the Project ‘YOU WANNA B£T?’ within the Youth, Family Community Learning Services at South Lanarkshire Council.

The questions from the audience provided a platform to further discuss the role of teachers and policy makers to include gambling in the school curriculum. All panel members highlighted that a joined-up approach is essential in order to better protect children and young people from gambling harms. While among stakeholders there has been a growing recognition that gambling is a public health issue, more needs to be done to address this.

Similar invitations to strengthen the work done to address gambling harms were voiced by other panels during the day. Evidence on gambling rates among young people was shared by Professor Alan Elmond (University of Bristol), showing that 45% of young men aged 16-24 had gambled in the past year. Dr David Zendle (University of York) talked about his research into video game and gambling.

Vicki Shotbolt (CEO of Parent Zone) also offered thought-provoking insights into the links between gambling and online gaming. A case study provided an example of how grandparents may often be unaware of gambling-like features in video games and thus inadvertently provide funds then used by grandchildren to open loot boxes.

With 93% of children in the UK playing video games, it’s essential that parents, guardians and professionals are equipped with reliable information and resources. For this reason, Parent Zone recently launched a new resource, “Gaming or Gambling”. It aims to help practitioners and families learn about the risks children may face when playing online games and ways to keep gaming fun and make it safer.

The Conference then ended with a panel discussion on developing treatment services for children and young people. Here, Scotland was represented by Andy Todd, CEO of RCA Trust (, a partner agency of GamCare.

The day was also a valuable opportunity for networking with a number of practitioners and organisations form across the UK, with whom we shared our poster presentation with the summary evaluation of the first school-based theatre tour we carried out in spring 2019.

The discussions held during the day certainly showed that protecting young people from gambling-related harms can only be possible through a multi-faceted and multi-agency approach. This requires a collective effort and the involvement of policy-makers, of treatment and prevention services, as well as practitioners from the public sector and the third sector.

As 2019 draws to an end, we look forward to continuing our work in Scotland in the New Year, sharing with our stakeholders the resources and evidence that have been presented at the Conference.