Increasing access to gambling brings with it an increase in the number of people experiencing problems related to gambling. These problems can show up in the workplace as increased lateness, absenteeism, poor work performance, illness, theft and more. Employers need to be aware of the potential negative consequences that can result from gambling problems and take steps to provide education and support to their employees.
Types of Workplace Gambling
A 1999 workplace survey found that 58% of the respondents said that employees at their organizations have been involved in Super Bowl pools and regular season football pools (55%). Pooling money to purchase lottery tickets among employees was also popular at 39%. Other popular employee gambling activities include sports pools, as well as pools for birth dates and birth weights. (SHRM, Gambling in the Workplace, 1999)
Telephone betting is also an easy way for an employee to gamble while at work. An employee can have an account with a bookmaker and place bets from the office. Sometimes, when there are opportunities, employees may watch the “game “ on television and/or listen on the radio while at work.
Currently there are virtually thousands of online casinos accessible via the Internet. This method of gambling for money is illegal in Ontario. Using their credit cards as collateral, people can gamble on-line at work for long periods of time while appearing to be hard at work. A Websense survey of 305 Internet-enabled employees found that 8% stated that gambling was the most addictive type of web content, and two percent admitted to gambling on-line while at work. There are a variety of casino games available on-line including poker and blackjack. Bingo is also widely available on the Internet.
Spread betting is another form of gambling that can be done either over the Internet as well as by telephone. If the spread is related to an ongoing event, like cricket or football, there is an increased temptation to follow the event to make further bets. Many sports books can be accessed via the Internet. The vast majorities are south of the border or offshore and they take bets on most, if not all, worldwide sporting events.
Employees can play cards for money during breaks and lunches. Staff on midnight shifts whose workplace is quiet can also play cards during work time
In addition, pyramid schemes also occur in the workplace.
As you can see, there are many opportunities for employees to gamble in the workplace and it is important for employers to be aware of these and to make sure that they are not creating an environment that promotes or condones gambling.
Impact on the Employee
Gambling can have a devastating impact on an individual’s personal and work life. When an employee is experiencing stress due to gambling, their work life is likely to be affected.Some of the consequences may include:
- Disciplinary/legal action - they may face legal or disciplinary action by the employer, or the police. This may affect their emotional and physical well being.
- Stigma & discrimination - if they choose to disclose their gambling problem, or are found out, they may experience stigma, discrimination, loss of job status and respect from mangers and co-workers.
- Exacerbation of other mental health problems - An employee with a gambling problem may also be experiencing other mental and physical health issues such as depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, or stress related illnesses such as ulcers, high blood pressure.
- Impacts on family - Family members can be seriously impacted by gambling related problems. This can include financial problems and relationship issues. Family members may fear job/financial loss.
Impact on the Workplace
Workplaces are negatively affected through employee lateness, absenteeism, illness, theft and more. Some of the impacts are looked at in more detail below.
An employee with a gambling problem, in desperation, might be tempted to steal from his/her employer in order to continue gambling.
- 75% of non-incarcerated and 97% of incarcerated gamblers report engaging in illegal activities to finance gambling (Lesieur, 1992).
- More than 1/3 of pathological gamblers report stealing from their employer (Ladouceur et al., 1994).
- The majority of crimes related to gambling are non-violent and such as credit card theft, embezzlement, check forgery, fencing stolen goods, insurance fraud, bookmaking, and employee theft and fraud (http://www.gameplanit.com/Business.html)
- Occasionally gambling related crime can involve violence and armed robbery. (http://www.gameplanit.com/Business.html)
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