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Guest Blog: Daniel Umfleet

It’s been an interesting journey the last couple of weeks. I’ve been exposed to more examples of online gambling than I ever imagined even existed. I’ve spoken with more problem gamblers than I care to mention, companies that have suffered the impact of problem gamblers carrying their habits over into the workplace, companies that have no clue how to quantify how much of their money might be flying out the door undetected due to these issues and HR departments across the UK that acknowledge there is a problem yet are unsure how to manage these issues in their workplace. Essentially, upon taking a deeper look, it appears to me we have a blind spot in our policies and procedures in this country that help companies minimise their risk when it comes to problem gambling in the workplace and a serious lack of business intelligence tools that could help a company identify behaviours and habits in their employees early on preventing a drop in workplace productivity and potentially millions of pounds disappearing from their books.

An alarming figure was reported in BDO Fraudtrack’s 2015 Report. Root cause analysis unveiled that 12.5% of fraud in the workplace is directly related to problem gamblers embezzling from the company in which they work. The 2017 Report stated that gambling was the second largest contributor to fraud. I sat down with two local industry leaders this week and asked the question whether or not they had come across this when conducting audits with their clients. The indirect answer was yes, however, it usually presents itself in smaller quantities that they typically do not handle so when an anomaly does crop up that looks suspicious, they flag it, advising that the company under audit take further action. Then, upon completion of an internal investigation, they told me it is not uncommon to hear that the reason for the theft was, indeed, related to gambling.

Patterns & Behaviour

The next layer of intrigue for me on this subject was what kind of patterns are we looking at here? What kind of behaviour profiles are we looking at? Basically, what is the make-up of the individual carrying out these embezzlement schemes? A report published in 2017 by Reed will tell you these culprits are not easy to spot. Problem gamblers hide themselves incredibly well inside the workplace. They fight very hard not to let their colleagues know that they have a problem. The information that reveals some patterns we can work with is usually disclosed when asking people if they know of people with problem gambling issues and they report that they have friends that work in certain sectors, usually not related to and distant from their own place of work, that tell them of their problems.

In fraud and embezzlement cases that have been reported that are directly linked to gambling addiction, its interesting to find that women with this problem embezzle more frequently than men but in smaller quantities, which make it harder to detect. Men have a habit of going for large amounts but with less frequency. Another interesting piece of information tells us which business types are most at risk. Financial sector businesses lead the way in the category of most amount taken but not the highest frequency of occurrences. Regardless of this information, the big question is, how much are they getting away with completely undetected? Better yet, how can a company prevent this behaviour from developing in their employees in the first place? Finally, is it the companies responsibility to do so?

Gambling Addiction related Theft

Arguably, no matter what a company does, a thief is a thief. Theft will occur in a situation where a person, regardless of their condition or position in life, wants to steal. However, when it comes to gambling addiction related theft, we can look at some data that can help us make some decision in regards to how we manage this inside of our own companies and workplaces. We now know, thanks to Reed again, that 6% of 24 – 35 year olds gamble online while at work through their devices. People with management responsibilities are more likely to have gambled in the last 12 months than those without (45% vs 39%). We know that Remote Gambling numbers are increasing, revenue and profits for the gambling operators in this sector are increasing and that gambling behaviours are being embedded into our young ones at alarming rates through things like skins betting in video games.

This information gives us some moves to counteract the impact of a growing gambling population in our workforce. If they are starting young and gambling online through their phones, logic would dictate that the problem is going to become more relevant with each incoming wave of young people unless there’s a call to action. 450,000 kids gambled last week according to the UK Gambling Commission, knowingly or unknowingly is irrelevant. The fact remains that they are doing it. 6% of our workforce between the ages of 25 – 34 are gambling on their phones while at work. It’s time to do something to prevent lost time, low productivity and protect our companies bottom lines from falling victim to a growing population of problem gamblers.

The Software/App/network Solution

The best solution on the market that is trying to tackle these issues today is gamban®. This is the only option available that completely locks the problem gambler out of online gambling options on his or her device. Access to gambling sites through the web browser or applications on a phone is just simply no longer possible with gamban® installed. We are not talking about simply blocking by keyword or URL with this software, we are talking completely irremovable, foolproof, robust, lightweight software that helps a problem gambler take control. The software works across Mac, Windows, iOS and Android platforms and can be used on any type of device. This is the first line of defence in a corporate environment. Simply make the product available to your people and let the problem gamblers in your business self select anonymously. This at least begins to reduce the companies risk.

The next level of protection gamban® can provide in a corporate environment is network blocking through DNS. What this means in real terms is eliminating the option of anyone accessing any online gambling options whilst connected to your networks. Every device, every terminal, completely protected, working for you to reduce your overall risk and keep your employees focused when connected to the office wi-fi.

Mobile Device Management

Finally, gamban® can take it a step further and offer MDM (Mobile Device Management) to a corporation looking for an even deeper level of protection. Every device that the company furnishes their employees with can be protected with the gamban® software blocking the employee from being able to access any and all online gambling options whether connected to your network or to the 4G or 5G coverage when they are not on your network. The company effectively eliminates the idea of online gambling from even being an option on the devices that they provide their employees.

Stop Losing Productivity

It’s time that the hidden impact of gambling in the workplace be dealt with. The New South Wales Government in Australia tells us that “19% of people with gambling problems report losing time from work or study as a result of gambling. What’s more, 25% report that gambling adversely affects their work. It is estimated that problem gambling in Australia costs $4.7 billion annually. “That’s a lot of lost time, lost productivity, money wasted and money lost all due to a problem that corporations are struggling to wrap their heads around globally. Maybe it’s time to do something about it. How much time and money do you think your company is losing as a result of gambling in the workplace and gambling related fraud?