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Grand National 2024 - Gambling in the workplace and keeping your employees safe

11 April 2024

As the Grand National races into action on 13 April 2024, the major UK event – anticipated to generate £250m in bets – kickstarts a packed Spring and Summer programme of sporting and gambling action for consumers this year. 

While gambling is a harmless activity for many people, for others they might be struggling to keep their betting habits under control and are soon discovering that it’s not only impacting their personal lives, but their professional ones too. 

However, when a Reed in Partnership report found 28% of working adults prefer to keep their gambling activities hidden from colleagues, how can employers spot the signs that their employee might be secretly gambling in the workplace? And what actions should they take to minimise the threat before an individual’s betting behaviours become harmful to the organisation? 

Our Insider Threat Manager, Tracey Carpenter, and Dan Spencer, Director of Safer Gambling at EPIC Global Solutions, delve into this topic more, and offer advice and support to ensure workplaces remain safe environments for all… 

If asked to think about a significant date in the horse racing calendar, many of us wouldn’t hesitate to say April for the Grand National. A world-renowned sporting event, this year it’s expected to attract a 500 million global audience and 150,000 attendees through the Aintree gates. 

As an employer, you may wonder what the link is between the Saturday spectacle and your workforce, especially as the main race itself lasts a mere nine minutes on average and doesn’t take place during a typical Monday-Friday working week. However, when you’re committed to keeping your employees safe, recognising the impact that events, such as the Grand National, can have on influencing gambling behaviours and/or addiction, may help you protect your workforce before an individual’s actions begin to harm your company. 


How gambling can affect your organisation 

Research from has identified that, “adult gamblers had lost jobs, were demoted or resigned due to gambling. Gambling was linked to loss of concentration on work activities, showing up late, not turning up for work or turning up after no sleep. Close associates of gamblers also reported their work performance being affected, and work colleagues and employers also suffered.” 

When gambling gets out of control for an employee, it can not only affect them, but potentially their colleagues, the wider organisation, and customers. For those who find themselves in debt to fund their gambling habits too, some might feel they must do whatever it takes to repay their financial losses. 

In this instance, organisations can find themselves in danger of ‘insider threat’. Insider threat is defined as a risk originating from within an organisation. It not only costs businesses multi-millions each year but it can result in reputational damages to companies too. 

Insider threat typically occurs when certain factors are at play – these being opportunity, motivation, and rationalisation. Let’s explore these a little more… 



Most employees who identify a gap in controls would either ignore or escalate it as something that needs fixing. However, those who are struggling to identify how they will fund their next bet may see this opportunity as the perfect solution to ease their debt worries, and an easy way to place their next bet. 



An addiction can make individuals act out of character and push them to behave in a way they wouldn’t usually. The strong urge to gamble could take over all logical thinking and give the employee the motivation to act dishonestly. 



Many of us can rationalise our activity and when it comes to gambling, there is no difference. An employee may abuse their position whilst justifying their activity by thinking, ‘it’s a one-off’ or, ‘I’ll pay the money back’.  

Delving into these three pillars a little more, as fraudulent cases to the Cifas Insider Threat Database continue to grow year-on-year – with many Cifas members reporting instances of dishonesty from employees have been due to funding a gambling addiction – below are three ways gambling in the workplace can affect an organisation, and how employers might want to mitigate against the risks. 

1. Abuse of company time: For example, employees who are gambling during working hours are unlikely to be fulfilling the obligations of their role. 

To reduce the distraction, employers should consider what domains are blocked on employee equipment – such as laptops and mobile phones – to limit the access to gambling sites. 


2. A data breach risk: If an employee is placing a bet, checking the latest results, or playing a game via an online casino, their lack of focus could be critical when handling sensitive documents, for example, and result in security, financial and/or reputational risks to the organisation. 

While it can often be difficult for employers to identify if or when employees are distracted, particularly if they work remotely, organisations should have the correct controls in place, such as password protection and access controls, to ensure confidential information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. 


3. Dishonest conduct: A gambling addiction can provide employees with the opportunity, motivation and/or rationalisation to commit fraud or theft within their organisation. Dishonest conduct may include stealing equipment to sell on, taking cash directly from the company, or divulging sensitive customer information to organised crime groups in exchange for money. 

Providing additional support, such as Employee Assistance Programmes, can give individuals a platform to ask for any help confidentially. It’s also important that employers offer a safe environment throughout so staff feel they can be open about how they’re doing. For example, regular welfare check-ins and normalising financial wellbeing conversations across the organisation can help – some of which is covered in this blog


The signs to look out for if employees are gambling in the workplace 

Whilst gambling may become a more frequent topic of conversation amongst employees around key sporting events such as the Grand National, this is quite normal and usually not a cause for concern.  

Many who are experiencing problems with their gambling will go to extreme lengths to cover up their behaviours and the signs may appear subtle enough to ignore but often the act of gambling is not kept in complete secrecy. Common warning signs that things may be more serious include the consequences of gambling that are more difficult to hide such as financial hardship. 

Many of the lived experience experts at EPIC describe asking to borrow money from colleagues, advances on their salary or having mobile phone contracts suspended due to unpaid bills. They may be difficult to contact outside of work, have limited social connections or show increased absenteeism as well as presenteeism and a decline in work performance or timekeeping.  

On the acute end of the spectrum, there could be signs of limited self-care such as:  

  • Changes in personal hygiene levels 
  • Malnourishment 
  • A general disregard to their appearance or relationships with colleagues.  

Secondary mental health consequences that are linked with gambling addiction include: 

  • Insomnia 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression  
  • Mood swings or arguments with colleagues 
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder 
  • Misuse of alcohol and/or narcotics.

These signs become more apparent when an open and honest conversation can be held with the colleague about their gambling. Be direct but compassionate, they may get over-defensive around their gambling behaviours especially if they are not ready to accept that they have a problem. 


The support on offer 

Workplaces should consider the risk to individuals and the business through in-house policies and procedures to deal with problems as they arise and prevent them from occurring. EPIC Global Solutions have been undertaking this work as consultants since 2013 and advocate for Gambling at Work policies. 

Many external support services also exist to help employees that could be experiencing problems with gambling. A self-diagnosis tool can be found on the NHS website here.  

This site also includes a wealth of options to find support including the National Gambling helpline run by GamCare on 0808 8020 133. 

Over the last few years, we have entered a phase where it is ‘okay to not be ok’ and therefore it’s vital that organisations provide a safe and protected environment for all, and accessible ways in which individuals can seek the help they need. A proactive, preventative approach to gambling-related harm is in everyone’s best interests and can not only help to protect the bottom line, in the most extreme cases, it can help to save lives. 

Thank you to EPIC Global Solutions for their valuable insight into this blog. Organisations keen to protect their workforces against the risk of gambling harm should contact their Head of Business Development, Mike Holinski, via or use the contact form via  

In collaboration with: Dan Spencer

Dan Spencer, Director of Safer Gambling at EPIC Global Solutions


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In collaboration with: Dan Spencer

Dan Spencer, Director of Safer Gambling at EPIC Global Solutions