General problem gambling up 20 percent in Britain

General problem gambling up 20 percent in Britain

October 9, 2009.

The vital importance of ensuring that responsible gambling programs are maintained at the highest levels of efficiency by gambling operators was highlighted this week by the news that appeals for help to problem gambling charity Gamcare have increased by 20 percent.

The charity reported the increase over the past year, using statistics derived from all forms of gambling, both on and offline.

More than 50 000 calls and emails were received by GamCare, a problem gambling advice body that is partly funded by the betting industry itself. Most calls were from men, the charity reported.

Gamcare runs both its telephone HelpLine and internet NetLine for gamblers and deals with around 100 a people day who need advice and counselling. Some 300 people are in treatment around the country receiving individual counselling.

Calls on NetLine are up 300 percent (from 1 407 to 4 729) and the number of counselling sessions is up by 30 percent on the previous year to 12 500.

"Our advisers and counsellors have never been busier," the organisation's chief executive, Andy McLellan told The Guardian newspaper this week. "More people are finding out about the help we offer, contacting us, and being helped.

"But we also know we are still only scratching the surface. The Gambling Commission's review of research, education and treatment suggested that less than 1 percent of people who could benefit from treatment actually take it up. There's a lot more for us to do, and a lot more people out there that we need to help."

Gamcare's annual report shows that the number of calls rose from 41 862 to 50 788 over the course of a year. The number of counselling sessions went up by 30 percent to 12 500. The charity says more than a third of those who get in touch are aged between 18 and 25.

The Gambling Commission's 2007 gambling prevalence survey found that 68 percent of the population had gambled within the past year. Problem gambling in Britain is estimated to be lower than in Hong Kong and the US but higher than in Norway, Canada and New Zealand, the newspaper reported.

For purposes of comparison, The Guardian reported that National Treatment Agency statistics confirm that record numbers of adults are being treated for drug addiction, with a total of 207 580 adults in treatment in 2008-09. The overall number of people being treated for heroin and crack problems in England has fallen from 64 288 to 61 636, the figures show.

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