Sunday January 27,2013 : PROBLEM GAMBLING INCIDENCE GROWING IN THE UK
National Problem Gambling Clinic director claims that GBP 2 billion online gambling industry is a contributor to increase.
Over the weekend The Independent newspaper in Britain carried an article claiming that online gambling, about to become a GBP 2 billion-a-year industry in the UK, is contributing to the rising incidence of problem gambling.
The article claims that new evidence has revealed that the number of people in danger of becoming problem gamblers has reached nearly a million, while hardcore addicts have doubled in six years to almost 500,000.
The article quotes Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, founder and director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, who said more women are gambling than ever before. "The proliferation of online gambling has brought into the home an activity that was historically male-dominated," she said.
Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins told the newspaper that in his opinion problem gambling is now as serious an issue as alcohol addiction. He equated the attraction of online gambling to the popularity of Fixed Odds Betting Machines in bookie shops – a currently hot issue in the UK following a campaign by an anti-gambling action body.
The Independent claims that around 9 million Britons will gamble online this year, but does not qualify this with the latest available statistics, which show that buying National Lottery tickets was far and away the most popular internet betting activity.
It claims that the Isle of Man-based software provider Microgaming has a turnover of "hundreds of millions of pounds a year" but does not give the source of its information.
Noting that online gambling companies advertise widely, the newspaper asserts that almost anything can be gambled online 24 hours a day
"The UK online gambling industry's value is expected to burst through the GBP 2 billion barrier for the first time in 2013, and over the next four years the European industry will grow by 34 per cent. Even in an age of austerity, business is booming," the article points out before reporting on the current government moves to increase tax revenues in December 2014 by introducing secondary licensing and point-of-consumption taxation for offshore companies wishing to access the UK market.
"In the meantime, health and social services have to deal with the bulk of problems resulting from compulsive gambling," the newspaper reports.
The Independent quotes figures from the UK Gambling Commission survey in 2010, which showed that: "In addition to the 450,000 problem gamblers in the UK – up more than 200,000 since 2007, with an average debt of GBP 17,500 each – the British Gambling Prevalence Survey found that another 900,000 people were at "moderate risk" of becoming problem gamblers, while 2.7 million more displayed "some risk factors".
The article goes on to quote Gamcare website visitor numbers, which rose by more than 100,000 in 2012 compared with 2011, and says that the charity predicts it will answer more than 44,000 calls this year – a 22 per cent rise on 2012.
"Of people needing GamCare's help last year, 34 per cent of all callers had problems with the internet, second only to betting shops (46 per cent). While 18 per cent used the internet as their primary location in 2011, this rose to 23 per cent last year. More than 20 per cent of the callers were under 18," The Independent notes.