Chevron Group’s RG expert answers the common problem gambling questions

We have asked our Responsible Gambling expert Mel McElhatton to answer a couple of important questions regarding problem gambling.

What is Problem Gambling?

Mel McElhatton, RG Expert (Chevron Group). (Picture: Chevron Group)
Mel McElhatton, RG Expert (Chevron Group). (Picture: Chevron Group)
Problem gambling is defined officially as a persistent and problematic gambling behavior pattern leading to significant distress or impairment. This means that gambling which is problematic impacts the individual, their loved ones, and/or society in a negative way. Generally, this can mean things like losing all one's savings or gambling so much that you don't have enough to life off comfortably and feeling emotionally in distress because of gambling (and also trying to deal with emotional distress WITH gambling). We also need to open up to the discussion on how spending too much time gambling can also be a sign of problematic behaviour... Because what am I giving up being able to gamble? Am I saying no to meeting friends for example?

Why is Gambling Awareness so important?

Just like with anything else in life, the more aware we are, the more we can do something about it. Having specific times of the year when we focus more on a particular issue doesn't mean it's only important in that period of time, but by spending some time highlighting it, maybe we can help even just 1 person to catch themselves before the problem gets even worse. Sometimes we take it for granted that people will notice that they have a problem, or that they'll know what to do - but reality is quite different. Unfortunately, it took a long time to recognise gambling addiction as a behavioural addiction, and this means that awareness of the problem is sometimes limited. This means we still have people who struggle to believe that gambling is an addiction (because how can something be addictive if you're not consuming anything?), or who believe that an addiction is caused by a moral failing (so only bad people can become addicted - this would make it very hard for the person to accept that they need help).

Where to find Problem Gambling Support?

Problem gambling support can be found in almost all countries, and it can come in the form of helplines, chatlines, or even therapy or group therapy with specialised individuals. All forms of support have their pros and cons, and if someone is just starting out on their recovery journey, I would say take any help you feel you can access. If the best you feel you can do is call a helpline anonymously, then please do that. If you feel that a group setting is more supportive for you, then please find your local support groups, these may be affiliated with Gambler's Anonymous, but there are also more independent support groups which use a different school of thought. If you happen to be in Malta or Germany, Gluecksfall - Safer Gambling Association offers a free helpline in English, Maltese, German and Turkish.

Mel McElhatton is our Responsible Gambling and Player Protection expert. Mel graduated as a social worker from the University of Malta in 2016, and has a Master’s Degree in Psychotherapy from the Gestalt Psychotherapy Training Institute Malta (GPTIM). Mel has over 8 years of experience working directly with people experiencing addictions – including gambling addiction. Prior to working in the field of addiction, Mel worked in the physical health sector at the local hospital, and within the mental health sector by providing support to individuals residing in assisted housing.  Through these experiences, they began to see addiction through more holistic eyes, which they try to implement in their practice and trainings. Mel also works as a consultant offering responsible gambling advice and support to clients from various jurisdictions like Malta, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, and the Netherlands. If you have any questions about Responsible Gambling or Player Protection you can contact Mel McElhatton via email

Interested in Responsible Gambling and Player Protection Trainings? Save the date for the upcoming trainings with Mel McElhatton:

  • 8th April - Maltese, Italian and Spanish regulations
  • 22nd and 23rd April - German regulations

Visit our website to register and follow us on Linkedin for more information about Responsible Gambling and Compliance Trainings.