Educational programs funded independently of the gambling industry and delivered by gambling harm consultancy Epic Risk Management have reached nearly 35,000 students across schools and colleges in the UK in 2021/22.
Face-to-Face Interactions Irreplaceable
The education sessions delivered by Epic Risk Management either face-to-face or via online resources to schools from all four Home Nations have a much wider reach, ensuring not only the students who have received the sessions but everyone close to them is better informed on what risks come alongside various forms of gambling.
Commenting on the impact of the education programs, Epic Risk Management’s head of delivery for education and CSR Patrick Foster implied that the actual number of the people impacted by the sessions is unknown due to the trickle effect.
“For all of us who facilitate, the bit where it hits home the most is that pupil who comes up to you and says ‘I have somebody at home who really struggles with this and I now have an understanding of what they’re going through’ or ‘I’m struggling with this myself; this has made me think about my behaviors’ and we’re able to support them.”Patrick Foster, Head of Delivery, Education and CSR, Epic Risk Management
A total of 34,759 students from 191 schools that were visited by the delivery facilitators is a misrepresentation of the scale of the positive impact the delivery was able to bring to the lives of many. Of them, 13,821 at 84 state schools received the education free of charge under the holistic Gambling Harm Education program, in partnership with WHYSUP and Teen Tips, while the remaining schools that received it directly from Epic Risk Management were independent.
Unlike in the previous academic year which was disrupted by the pandemic, the 2021/22 term allowed the lived experience team to visit all schools except seven of them and tell their moving stories in person, a prerequisite for the message to hit home according to Foster.
“The impact of face-to-face delivery and having someone stood up in front of an audience has been so evident to us this year.”Patrick Foster, Head of Delivery, Education and CSR, Epic Risk Management
Elaborating on the need for students to digest most of the material via online resources, Foster was adamant that the future would bring even more face-to-face sessions without neglecting opportunities presented by digital channels and their advantages of additional reach and instant dissemination.
Loot Boxes, Cryptocurrencies, NFTs
Looking to the future, Foster believes that there is an area where the program could bring even more value in 2022/23 and it is the issue of loot boxes. Concerned that these video game elements remain “the most accessible” form of gambling for underage people, Foster wants the company to enhance the level of information it provides on the subject.
Epic Risk Management recently called on the authorities in the UK to ban sales of loot boxes to minors concerned that the self-regulation approach that the government is expected to adopt would not be enough to prevent the harmful effect of loot boxes on young people.
Foster also pointed to the rise of cryptocurrency trading and NFTs as possible mediums of risk-taking behavior which has gambling elements and is causing serious concern for parents and schools.