Many credit unions, particularly those in Britain using open banking, are seeing increasing signs of problem gambling in the expenditure patterns of members applying for loans. Up to 1.2 million adults in the UK are classified as ‘problem gamblers’ and in Ireland over 135,000 are either problem gamblers or ‘at risk’. Harmful gambling is not limited to ‘problem gamblers’, however, so the real number of people at risk of harm is much higher, with perhaps three times as many adults who are affected by someone else’s gambling. There are many adverse impacts of problem gambling, in particular financial harms such as over-indebtedness and problem debt; repossession of goods or home; low financial resilience due to loss of savings or pension to gambling; reduced access to financial services or financial exclusion; heightened risk of being a victim of fraud or scams; and financial abuse of others.
Professor Sharon Collard and Katie Cross, from the Personal Finance Research Centre (PFRC) at the University of Bristol, supported by Swoboda, have been working with credit unions to develop a short, practical guide to help credit unions support their members. This guide shares practical examples of what credit unions are already doing to support their members and the difference they can make, along with tools, resources and case studies. The guide can be downloaded here.
This report was made possible with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council’s Impact Accelerator Account administered by the University of Bristol (grant reference ES/M500410/1).