Funding bid by anti-gambling app developers

A group of Sheffield medical students behind a new anti-gambling app are hoping to land a slice of a £60 million pot of money being funded by the country’s gambling firms.

Minal Jain along with her fellow University of Sheffield students are in the middle of bringing to life an app – called Bet On Me – which uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to change the thought process of gambling addicts.

CBT strives to make addicts more aware of the triggers for their actions while empowering them to restore rational thought processes.

The app monitors a user’s thoughts, behaviours and feelings to identify when they are most likely to have a gambling urge, and will suggest activities designed to distract them.

The group are currently conducting market research with a focused group of gambling addicts before appointing an app developer with a view to launching the app in December.

Jain, along with Tejus Patel, Akshay Kumar and Adil Nayeem are also using a £5,000 worth of business advice from the Baldwins KickStart Awards to make the business attractive to external investors.

Their project’s progress comes at a time when some of the gambling industry’s biggest names have pledged to increase their voluntary levy from 0.1 per cent to 1 per cent up to 2023 to fund treatment for gambling addiction – a contribution of £60 million.

Minal said: “It’s encouraging to see big gambling firms waking up to the addictive nature of the industry, but the money needs to be spent on activity that is likely to have the best impact.

“We want this app to be the first step of the treatment ladder, followed by face-to-face CBT sessions with psychiatrists and psychologists.

“Our app is built upon research we have done with around 20 genuine gambling addicts – finding out why they remained engaged with the app and what parts they didn’t feel worked – and is a much more long-term tailored approach covering six sessions.

“The app is similar to a companion who is always there to support with timely alerts to help people at their most vulnerable moments.

“It is set to be ready to go by the end of December, and we are hoping to pitch the product to gambling operators, gambling charities and the NHS.”

The quartet’s journey has been aided by entering last year’s Baldwins KickStart Awards – where they pitched their business idea to stand a chance of winning £20,000 worth of investment. They eventually finished runners-up in 2018 to take home £5,000 worth of business mentoring and accountancy advice.

Business hopefuls aged 18 to 25 can enter this year’s Awards by August 31, 2019, which are being held at Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham on November 14, 2019.

David Baldwin, Director at Baldwins, added: “The business advice from the Baldwins KickStart Awards has enabled Minal and her team to take their concept to the next stage in terms of preparing research to prove their product works, as well as funding the creation of the app itself.

“People who enter with a business plan will be given meaningful feedback for them to pursue their concept further, so we’d urge as many people as possible to give it a go.”