According to statistics from the gambling industry in the UK generated a gross gambling yield of a staggering £14.1 billion in 2020. A significant contribution to that figure comes from online gambling which has seen a major boom in recent years.

The accessibility and ease with which people can now use their phone to engage in gambling has, according to same data set, resulted in 45% of men and 23% of women regularly engaging in online sports betting. With the World Cup in Qatar now underway and games taking place throughout the normal working day it is probable that you will have staff who not only have an interest in the tournament but who are gambling at work, with the research showing that 15% of online gamblers did so during their working day.

Staff gambling at work can cause some serious headaches for you and your business. Depending on the wording of your policies and procedures it is highly likely that an employee who is gambling at work will be breaching a number of them, for example mobile phone usage, internet and IT usage, code of conduct and working hours.

Selecting and placing the bet itself may only take a minute or so, but many sports betting markets focus on in play events and offer the chance to cash out part way through a game. Therefore, if an employee has placed a bet on a match they will be distracted and no doubt checking the match as it plays out rather than focussing on the job that you are actually paying them to do.  The effect of this distraction will be unproductive, wasted working hours which could be classed as theft of time and would be a disciplinary offence. If the employee is in a client facing role what level of service are they actually giving your customers? Are they sneaking off to check on their bets and leaving customers without assistance which could result in lost sales and damage to your business’ reputation. Or if they are distracted while using equipment or even driving this poses a health and safety risk to both themselves and others. Issues associated with gambling which can also impact on the workplace include the impact on an employee’s wellbeing, their relationships with colleagues and possibly even fraudulent behaviour and theft if they are in serious debt.

As an employer you have a duty to provide a safe and healthy working environment for your team.  For some staff gambling can cause harm through addiction and a study by Be Gamble Aware found that 1.4 million people are being harmed by their own gambling, while a further 1.5 million are at risk. It is reasonable then to take a proactive approach to gambling in the workplace and there are some simple measures that you can put in place to prevent gambling at work from becoming a problem for your business during the World Cup. By having clear policies and procedures and making sure that your team know what they involve, you can head off problems before they arise. You might even have a specific stand alone gambling policy. You could use IT security measures to limit or block access to online gambling sites on work computers and devices. If you think that there is a problem you can raise awareness of gambling, addiction and its associated problems through information sharing, signposting and by encouraging any staff who might be struggling to talk to you in the first instance or a wellbeing support specialist if they need additional help.

Although for many people gambling is a fun activity, ultimately it should not be encouraged in the workplace. Employers should keep their eyes and ears open and should taken action if and when they discover that something is not right. For more information visit BeGambleAware®: Gambling Help & Gambling Addiction | BeGambleAware.

Do you have questions about gambling at work?

Give us a call at CUBE HR on 01282 678321, we’ll be happy to advise you and we have policies and templates available to meet every HR need.

Why not check out one of our other World Cup theme blogs Diversity, Equality, Inclusion & The World Cup.

We also have a YouTube channel with loads of handy videos.