Coming Soon

Gambling Watch Scotland

The Machine Zone Community Interest Company is working with many others to deliver a website which raises awareness about gambling harms and challenges stigma. People who suffer mental distress bear the added weight of stigma which can cause further suffering such as isolation and shame. Stigma also often prevents people from sharing problems and seeking support.

This is a temporary ‘ rough and ready’ landing page as we design the site. Below you can read details of what you’ll find when the website goes live in March 2021. Most importantly, if you or somebody close to you is needing support, please go here to see some sources of immediate help. Just seeing what’s available is a great first step to dealing with any issues you are facing, whether you’ve run into gambling problems yourself or are affected by somebody else’s gambling.

We’ve received a financial award from Greater Glasgow and Clyde Healthy Minds Anti-Stigma section. We were, and remain, committed to delivering this project in community settings involving citizen conversation. Because of the current pandemic we are delivering the project online with this website and Zoom events. At the centre of the project is a film, currently in production, telling one person’s story of gambling damage. We also have the voices of many others in Glasgow, Scotland and beyond who tell their stories.


The extent and types of gambling harms are generally not realised. The scale of the damage is huge and we try to provide knowledge and understanding of the issue. Raising such awareness is one of the best ways to reduce stigma. We aim too to provide guidance for frontline health and social care workers. We discuss the kinds of support already available while pointing to a need for greater provision and integrated policy at government level.

Each section begins with a summary of essential content. Different users can then dig deeper according to needs and interests. We fully appreciate that yet another website is yet another drain on time and have worked to design it so that it can be browsed with varying degrees of attention.

You’ll hear a lot from the real experts, the voices of those who have suffered and been deeply wounded by gambling.

We work from Scotland’s Central Belt, and we believe strongly in the importance of community action and citizen involvement. You’ll find on the site content specific to Scotland and its communities but much will be of interest to people from all over the world, From Lochaber, Bathgate and Sutherland, from Canada to Miami.

Below, you’ll find an overview of some of the topics we’ll cover. A particular focus is upon the many organisations set up by people who have experienced gambling harms. Grassroots activism related to gambling is very dynamic and we’ll look at some of the brilliant work being done – usually on a voluntary basis – and the effects it’s having.

In looking to prevent or minimise gambling harms we’ll look at topics such as industry regulation, treatment quality and availability, awareness-raising, education, the roots of gambling distress, inequalities, the very significant role of stigma, public health initiatives and more. We’ll also examine Scottish government policies and the possibilities of bringing about integrated prevention strategies, and clear pathways for health and social care.

Currently, the Westminster Department of Culture, Media and Sports is inviting evidence for a review of the 2005 Gambling Act. We’ll link to some responses. Scotland is covered by this or a new Act, and is also involved in a three years review of UK gambling by the Gambling Commission.


Some Topics in the Site


SUPPORT. Links and details of sources of support by telephone or online. Specific links to support in Glasgow and Scotland but including UK links. When the site is launched in March there will also be advice for self-management of mental distress caused by gambling and advice on coping with stigma.

VOICES. As well as the main film we present the words of Experts by Experience, the voices of those who tell their individual stories of gambling harms.

MENTAL HEALTH and ADDICTION. Here we ask whether the words addict and addiction are themselves stigmatising. We look at the issue of ‘mental health’ and ‘addiction’ services being customarily separated, and suggest that ‘addiction’ is one of the most pervasive mental health disorders. We discuss whether there may be an unintended institutional stigma in some aspects of health and social care provision. We examine the close links between such states as depression, anxiety and more specific vulnerabilities in conditions such as bipolar, and gambling distress

THE PREVALENCE OF GAMBLING HARMS. We present conflicting data and understanding of harms. We discuss individual sectors of the population such as women, members of minority communities, or children and see how each sector needs individual attention. We also discuss how stigma is a greater problem for some sectors.

STIGMA is discussed generally in relation to mental health. Then we look at stigma and addiction, then stigma and gambling. Ways of challenging stigma are presented.

COMMUNITY. A description of community involvement.

ACTIVISTS. There has been a tremendous groundswell from grassroots voices over the past decade. A good many have built on their experiences and passion for change to establish their own charities and other social enterprises which demand change and offer support. We look at one such enterprise particularly and describe many others.

THE BIG ISSUES. In recent decades there have been growing calls for changes in the gambling landscape and strong calls for significant action. These have come, as well as from grassroots voices from politicians, the media, psychiatrists and doctors, academic researchers, the churches and a wide range of organisations such as those who work on child welfare. Currently the Department for Culture, Media and Support is inviting evidence towards a review of the Gambling Act. We offer a guide to the debates from all ‘stakeholders’ including industry. This section divides into subjects such as advertising and marketing, gambling product design, consumer safeguards.

YOUNG PEOPLE AND EDUCATION. With almost 2% of UK 11-16 year olds identified as ‘problem gamblers’, we look at how children run into difficulties, including the role played by loot boxes. We discuss and offer tentative evaluation of schools-based and informal gambling education provision.

INEQUALITY AND MULTIPLE DISADVANTAGES. in a city such as Glasgow, health and wellbeing in two areas separated by only half a mile can differ widely. Life expectancy, for instance, may be fifteen years less in one area than the other. We discuss this in terms of mental and physical health, then focus on gambling. We see how bookmakers and other gambling providers tend to cluster in deprived areas. We discuss how Scotland does not have sufficient devolved regulatory powers to impact licensing.

FORUM. This will be a place where you can discuss things, raise new topics, respond to topics and so on.


Somewhere well worth a visit if you’re interested in Scottish developments is the Scottish Health and Social Care Alliance which is running a three years project to bring people affected by gambling harm to the forefront in bringing about change. They’ve been mounting a series of Zoom events such as these and gathering stories from Experts by Experience such as this one from Martin. Martin is a founder of The Machine Zone and one of the UK’s most prominent grassroots activists.

When the site is launched we’ll introduce you to a large and growing number of individuals and organisations all working to reduce gambling harms. Some of these are global, some across Britain, many throughout Scotland, and those in Glasgow and Glasgow’s communities.

Follow us on Twitter

Twitter is the place to be to engage with a dynamic forum of news, debate, articles, videos, people’s stories and SUPPORT. We’ve already started our twitter account so click on the birdie below and you’ll soon be able to link to a wonderful network. If you’ve never used twitter, it’s easy to set up. If you are a touch negative about twitter, do try it out. The networks formed around gambling harms are great!


If you need support for gambling damages please check our SUPPORT page. You may need help because of your own gambling. You may be suffering harm because of someone else’s gambling. Perhaps you worry about someone’s gambling and want to help. You may be a young person looking for somehwere to turn. Whoever you are, don’t suffer in silence.

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