Dr Alexandra Kenyon and Dr Neil Ormerod, of the School of Events, Tourism and Hospitality Management, were speaking at a Problem Gambling Masterclass held in Leeds on Friday by Public Health England.
Fifteen councils from across the region joined forces at the event in a bid to tackle a growing gambling problem that can lead to debt, relationship breakdowns and mental health issues.
The collaboration follows Leeds Beckett research carried out last year, funded by Leeds City Council. It has been estimated that there are about 40,000 people “at risk of harm” from gambling, including 10,000 “problem gamblers” in Leeds alone.
During the research, Dr Ormerod interviewed support services staff, including a charity worker who told him: “My personal feeling as someone who is looking at the future of the charity is that it could be a tsunami. We’ve seen the tsunami from alcopops, we’ve seen the tsunami from legal highs like "spice". I think gambling is the hidden tsunami.”
Recently, Dr Kenyon appeared in a special report into problem gambling by the BBC’s current affairs programme Inside Out, which can be viewed by clicking here.
Referring to her research, she said: “The gamblers I spoke to said they had used online chat help or phoned a helpline. Some I spoke to were receiving treatment which they felt was helping them.
“Gamblers did feel shame and guilt about their behaviour, especially if they lied to their family or loved ones about their whereabouts or spent money on gambling that should have been spent on groceries.”
Proposals for the first gambling addiction support clinic in the North of England, based in Leeds, have been included in a consultation document by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.
To find out more about the work of Leeds Beckett’s International Centre for Research in Events Tourism and Hospitality, click here.