Gordon Moody: Using technology to grow the global conversation around problem gambling

Speaking to SBC News ahead of the SBC Summit Barcelona, where Gordon Moody will be exhibiting, Paul Dent, Gambling Therapy Manager walked us through the reasons behind the technical upgrades and how the use of translation software is helping to grow the global conversation around problem gambling.

SBC: 50 Years of Gordon Moody (GM), congratulations! What have you been doing to mark the occasion?

It’s a big year for us at Gordon Moody! We’re celebrating our people past, present and future, taking the time to reflect and celebrate our achievements as a charity so far. 

We’re hosting a celebration event bringing our team and ex-service users together, we’ve also got a book reflecting on elements of our 50 years history as well as rolling out our rebrand and looking forward to increasing our residential places in early 2022. 

SBC: So the GM websites have undergone considerable upgrades recently – what was the thought process behind this? Why was now the perfect time to revamp the sites?

There were a number of reasons beyond the initial rebranding of both sites and what you now see as the finished products. The GM site had not undergone any radical change for many years and through the rebrand, it was very important to define what GM does best – deliver treatment to the most problematic of gamblers whilst providing support to those affected by gambling. With the addition of the Women’s Residential, we also wanted to highlight the range of treatment programmes now available. 

The main aim with Gambling Therapy was to illustrate that it was a “global service offered by Gordon Moody providing practical advice and emotional support to anyone affected by gambling”. This is reflected in the similar branding and use of the GM logo whilst providing an online international service.

In terms of timing, what could be better than in GM’s fiftieth year celebrating the strength of the residential programmes that has been the mainstay over the many years with new technology enabling us to reach out globally to support clients in any language 24/7.

SBC: GM offers multilingual helplines to help people all around the world who are affected by problem gambling. How has technology helped you achieve this? 

Translation software has been available for several years now and a number of sites offer some languages relevant to their region. What makes GM standout is that we have the capability to translate over 250+ languages in machine code (which is quite sophisticated now) and a large number in native language i.e., has been further translated by someone speaking it as a first language. We believe it is important to have as many languages as close to native as possible. 

We have taken this one stage further to develop our technology to enable our groups and forums to be available to anyone in real time at the “same time”. We believe nobody has been able to offer the ability to have a global conversation around gambling problems together in multiple languages – something we have now achieved. 

Finally, we have an immensely experienced team of psychotherapists and counsellors to provide support to the most problematic clients. We have not only the experience, but the processes that keep our clients and just as importantly, our staff safe when dealing with people who quite often display comorbidities of possibly drugs, alcohol and mental health issues. This is something Gordon Moody will be dealing with in partnerships with agencies as so often gambling is just one of the issues presented. 

SBC: Can you tell us about some of the new features that we might be able to find on the new website? How successful has the roll out been so far?

We have extended the multilingual concept into the groups and forums therefore growing the global conversation around problem gambling. This has been no small technological feat and we do not believe any else has achieved this in the gambling treatment arena. Particularly with the forums, we have had to balance the many years of people’s journey to recovery versus the difficulties of translating. This has led to some interesting discussions with Google. 

We have also developed a “portal” which enables clients to move seamlessly from the GM site to the helpline. This is something we are discussing with several operators in terms of moving complex clients to our advisors without losing them when they are at a point of crisis. This is further evidence of GM working as one globally entity providing support to those most in need.

SBC: From a sociocultural perspective, how important is both language and culture when it comes to offering support to those affected by problem gambling?

Operating on a global perspective, we encounter many challenges linked to cultural aspects. The most prevalent being when gambling is not permitted due to religious reasons. 

India is a good example of many people having numerous mobile phones or sims allowing them to gamble but limited support when they encounter gambling problems. They find it difficult to talk to anyone, especially family, and there are very places offering help. In these situations, we offer practical advice and brief interventions in the 12 major languages spoken.

Shame is a big factor, whether from the act of gambling or the debt people find themselves in. With ever increasing numbers of women gambling, especially online, this is even more difficult particularly if the money is not their own. This is true both internationally and within the UK where GM has been overwhelmed by applications for the new Women’s Residential Centre. A pilot commences in November with the Centre opening fully in early 2022. 

SBC: How have you had to adapt your treatment services to fit in with different cultures? Are some cultures more open to discussing treatment when compared to others? 

Translation is more than just changing the words into various languages. Having the socio-cultural aspect correct is just as important as the use of language when it comes to communication. Having an international service dealing with countries as diverse as Brazil, India, Poland and the CIS Region enables us to further understand how someone’s background and culture plays a part in their gambling addiction but also in their treatment needs. 

We are here at SBC Barcelona to communicate with operators who would like to join us on our journey for the next fifty years – come and see us on our stand or contact Chloe Tomalin, the Marketing Manager for Gordon Moody.

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