03/14/2012 : FEARS THAT ONLINE GAMBLING IS CREATING SCOTS YOUTH PROBLEMS
Experts warn that younger punters are more likely to develop gambling problems
Although the percentage of punters who develop gambling problems remains very small, the phenomenon continues to be a cause for concern, and this week a conference in Glasgow will hear from debt specialists, academics and recovering gambling addicts on gambling prevalence, and the impact of internet and mobile gambling on the issue.
On the run-up to the conference over the weekend, Yvonne MacDermid, chief executive of Money Advice Scotland, told local media : "What we are seeing is more and more people seeking help for their gambling debt and the gambling-related harm that follows. Some people can gamble and it doesn't become uncontrollable but gambling problems can be a tricky thing to detect.
"The economy is such that people are taking chances that they wouldn't have taken before."
MacDermid went on to suggest that heavily promoted online bingo sites created a false sense of security for some.
"Online bingo is a very social thing. People may be sitting at home feeling quite isolated and the bingo sites create a sense of a social network. For some people these sites may just be an interest but for some it gets out of control very quickly," she said, adding that advances in technology, including smartphone apps for betting sites have made betting far easier to access.
"Bear in mind people could be sitting in a bookmaker's waiting on their horse running," MacDermid pointed out. "There may be further betting machines in the bookmaker's and they could well have betting apps on their phone. They could be watching the progress of one bet and be on their phone at the same time trying to get a pay-day loan to cover the cost of it. People can become extremely vulnerable if they borrow money to bet."
The conference will hear that Scotland has the fourth highest rate of gambling of UK regions, with 75 percent of people saying they have gambled over the previous year and 49 percent gambling at least once a week, although most online gambling has been on the National Lottery.
Marc Etches, chief executive of the Responsible Gambling Trust, said he could not recognise a growth in problem gambling, with global figures on those seeking help remaining "very small and very stable".
But Andy Todd, counselling services manager of RCA Trust, which offers treatment for gamblers, said more young people were looking for help with gambling issues, with increased accessibility to gambling at the root of the rise