Dr. Bramley said some migrants gamble “to escape a culture of stress, or of loneliness or feeling homesick.” Or “they might gamble to supplement their income when they are working on zero hours contracts,” which migrants tend to be on more than native-born workers.
Shift work itself was also a factor, Kubet with unsocial hours leading to casinos and betting shops being the only option when you come off shift. Location of work can be a factor too. Dr. Bramley used the example of migrants working in and around London’s Chinatown, which has a lot of casinos. And for migrants paid in cash, or who don’t have proper ID, casinos and betting shops can be the only game in town.
Dr. Bramley points out that another big factor could be coming from a place where gambling is more heavily restricted or forbidden. For a migrant coming from such a place, arriving in the U.K. and seeing betting shops on every high street could be a temptation too strong to pass up. But for someone not familiar with gambling, it can be hard to know when things get out of control.
This is something Matt Blanks has seen firsthand. He is a community support officer at Betknowmore, a U.K. gambling support charity. Before this he worked in betting shops around London for over a decade, and he saw many groups of migrants, people from Eastern Europe and Muslim countries in particular, show signs of gambling problems.
He says that though each person is different, there were often common factors between them, along the lines of what Dr. Bramley’s research found: “When they come to this country looking for a better life, obviously a lot of them work long hours, probably low-paid jobs etc. When they come into contact with gambling, sometimes it’s a coping mechanism for what they’ve been through. And then other times, it’s because they’re quite isolated.”