Sporting events may have been cancelled, but online gambling can still be a problem for people in North East Lincolnshire.
Many people are now staying at home as a result of social distancing measures, which has led to an increased risk of people taking part in online gambling.
Online casinos, slot machines and virtual sports, including the recent virtual Grand National mean people still have access to betting.
Online gambling accounts for the biggest spend by far in North East Lincolnshire, partly due to the ease of access and 24 hour availability of gambling and gaming apps and websites.
Issues such as social isolation, boredom, financial uncertainty and domestic conflict can all be factors which drive people to online gambling.
Councillor Ron Shepherd, cabinet member for Safer and Stronger Communities at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “Gambling may be used as a way to escape difficult every-day situations, such as stress at work or home, relationship or financial problems.
“It’s vital you don’t take a punt on your own mental and financial wellbeing. Times are hard for everyone at the moment, the last thing you want to do is make it worse and leave yourself out of pocket.
“We work with groups in the community to help people affected by problem gambling, and I would urge anyone who is at risk to seek help.”
There are steps you can take to avoid yourself or others being drawn in to online gambling during lockdown.
It is important to maintain a routine, including a combination of household chores and hobbies to keep your mind off issues which may cause anxiety.
Watching TV shows, reading or doing something creative are great ways to resist boredom and avoid taking part in potentially disruptive behaviours.
Daily exercise is also important, and is allowed under the government’s social distancing guidelines. Going for a walk around the park or taking the dog out can help you keep a clear head.
It’s also important to stay connected with friends and family wherever possible.
Services like Skype, Zoom or Facebook allow you to keep in touch with loved ones, even when you may not be able to meet in person.
For anyone already struggling with gambling, there are also steps you can take to help you break the habit.
Various betting blockers are available to download, which can prevent you accessing gambling sites and apps.
Some good options are Gamstop and Gamblock, which can stop you gambling no matter what device you use.
If you are at risk, you could also ask someone to manage your money for the duration of the lockdown.
It could also be worth moving your banking to a service which blocks transactions to gambling sites, and includes a cooling off period if you change your mind. Monzo and Starling Bank are two examples.
If you decide you don’t want to use these services, you can also put a cap on your spending, to make sure you don’t lose money chasing your losses.
North East Lincolnshire Council works with local organisations, such as Krysallis, who work with GamCare, to provide free advice and support for anyone affected by problem gambling.
If you’re concerned about your own or someone else’s gambling, services such as Krysallis can help.
For more information or for ways to get help, visit: krysallis.org.uk or call 01472 857939.