YGAM founders say experience-based strategy could achieve more with perspective diversity

Lee Willows, Chief Executive and co-founder of YGAM, the charity which works to inform, educate and safeguard young people against gaming and gambling-related harm, has proposed that the UK Gambling Commission’s Experts by Experience initiatives might warrant a range of different voices that are representative of the totality of the gambling experience in order to be fully-inclusive in their insight and decision making.

Acknowledging the important role that initiatives based on personal insight, knowledge and understanding can play, he said: “It is pleasing to see more contributions made from people with direct experience of the tragic harm that gambling can cause some individuals, such as the YGAM founders. Lived Experience or what the Commission is terming ‘Experts by Experience’ is a really important part of the conversation.  My position is that Lived Experience must include a chorus of different voices and not just those who have experienced gambling disorder, but who represent the wider player spectrum. Personally, as someone who lost everything to a gambling addiction, I am always grateful for the opportunity to contribute my insight and experiences as such a level of inclusion would have been unheard of five years ago.”

He continued: “Surely it’s important to understand how and why the vast majority of people who gamble can do so without experiencing a problem, as well as the reasons why some will develop significant and profound gambling related problems? If we accept the vast majority of people gamble within their means and with no adverse consequences, then understanding why this happens is just as useful as understanding why people like I cannot. By taking this much broader approach it would be amazing if different people within the debate can find some common themes to focus on and move forward in a progressive and non-judgemental way.”

Anne Evans, YGAM founder said recently: “I believe we are moving in the right direction and there are some extremely talented people working hard to make a difference. There will always be a wide spectrum of opinions on what needs to be done to reduce gambling harms and all these views should be welcomed. There is no perfect solution. We need a diverse spread of perspectives to engage in the debate. We must respect all the different views and always be kind.”