Gambling Commission

Problem gambling is on the increase in the UK, according to the annual report just released by the Gambling Commission.

Nearly 73% of UK residents take part in some kind of gambling, although most of that number is on the National Lottery.

The National Lottery sold more tickets than ever in 2011-12, up 12% in the year.

Other gambling activities are also growing fast to, which include football betting, scratchcards, online poker and bingo, according to the latest British gambling prevalence survey (BGPS).

“Gambling is growing, helped by our somewhat liberal regulatory framework,” said John McLeod, of the card game information site

But nearly 1% of Britons have a gambling problem, according to the BGPS. And there is great concern among the experts that gambling is the addiction which has been left behind by policy-makers. If nearly one in 100 (0.9 per cent) of people can be classified as problem gamblers then it could be argued that more resources should be going into this field. Class-A drug-takers (about 3% of the population) and alcoholics (somewhat more than 3%, depending on the definition) are researched and monitored far more closely and offered more accessible help.

“They often get into financial difficulties,” said Heather Wardle, the project director on the BGPS at the NatCen research organisation. “When the problem is extreme, they use various strategies to get more money in order to gamble and, in the most extreme situations, they will commit crime.”

The Gordon Moody Association, which treats the most serious addicts, estimates that they “will have severely affected the lives of at least 15 others in order to support their gambling”.

The BGPS suggests the situation could deteriorate further as seven per cent of people, about 3.5 million adults, are in the “at risk” category.


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