The UK Has Over 400,000 Problem Gamblers Says UKGC

The latest Gambling Commission report also finds over 2 million UK citizens are either addicted, or at risk from gambling addiction.

A fixed-odds betting terminal

Campaigners want a crackdown on FOBTs like this one, which can earn £100 every 20 seconds. ©Sky News

Figures published last week show than in 2015, 3.9% of the population was in danger, while 0.8% were already hooked.

It comes on the back of renewed calls from GambleAware, the UK’s leading gambling charity, to step-up its funding for addiction treatment from £8m to £10m.

Campaigners have pressured parliament lately into curbing the increasingly popular fixed-odds betting terminals, which allow punters to spend up to £100 every 20 seconds. The government recently delayed a report on whether to clamp down on the terminals and stop the spread of TV gambling advertisements. UK Finance Minister Philip Hammond claimed it would be “financially crippling” if lawmakers proceeded to massively cut the maximum possible wagers.

The report is belatedly due in October, but the UKGC executive director Tim Miller believes, in light of the latest publication, the challenge is too great to delay tackling it.

The pace of change to date simply hasn’t been fast enough – more needs to be done to address problem gambling. Tim Miller, Gambling Commission executive director

Statistics in the latest report also show an upward trend in gambling addiction. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of problem gamblers rose by over 100,000, while gambling addiction among over-16s rose from 0.6% to 0.8%.

The Association of British Bookmakers called for improved industry cooperation to address the problem, but claimed that levels of problem gambling are “stable”.

Labour MP for Swansea East, Carolyn Harris described the report as a “wake-up call”, while criticising the industry’s response.

This problem is not going away, in fact it’s getting worse. If the industry believes there’s no issue, they’re completely deluded. Carolyn Harris, Labour MP for Swansea East

Meanwhile, the report shows that men (1.5%) are 7.5 times more likely to be classed as problem gamblers than women (0.2%).

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