|Demand for help with problem gamblers continues to rise|
Even before the betting bonanza of the World Cup, the Epsom Derby and the
grudge fight between Tyson and Lewis, GamCare reports a further rise in
gamblers seeking help after getting into trouble with their gambling. The
charity fully expects its National Helpline to be particularly busy
following an estimated £150 million gambling spree forecast for this mammoth
Figures published today in its ‘Care Services Report ‘ for 2001 show a 27%
increase in those counselled over the GamCare National Helpline. Improved
data collection has enabled GamCare to establish that over 40,000 calls to
the Line were attempted last year, yet only a quarter of those were
effectively connected to the service.
Paul Bellringer, GamCare’s Director, said: “ I am not surprised by the
increase that is more due to the charity becoming better known than a rise
in problem gambling. I am delighted that we are able to handle more calls
but the fact remains two-thirds of callers are unable to get through. The
charity urgently needs more resources to staff more lines for longer hours
so that everyone who wants help can get it.”
Most first time calls were about slot machine gambling (53.5%), followed by
betting on the horses and dogs (34.0%) and then casino table games (6.5%).
Only a relative small number of callers were in trouble with gambling on
sports events (2%) or on the lottery (0.5%). The most popular places to
gamble are still traditional venues such as arcades, betting offices and the
pub but Internet gambling is also beginning to appear.
Debt was the biggest area of difficulty - the average of those calling the
Helpline was around £15,500 but at the top end some callers had debts in
excess of £64,000. Relationship difficulties also scored highly, a fact
that underlines the destructive influence the problem gambler exerts on
their partner and children. Callers are mostly male (88%) and 38% were aged
25 or younger. Young people find this medium of counselling attractive with
9% of callers being under 18 years old. By far and away the most popular
referral source was Yellow Pages or the Telephone directory and people
phoned principally because they realised the futility of their gambling or
were seeking support to break the habit.
Face To Face Counselling
GamCare’s London based centre experienced a 42% increase in referrals for
face to face counselling and the seven joint venture projects around the UK
had a more modest growth rate.
The most significant fact is that at the end of counselling those that had
stopped or brought it under control stood at an impressive 81% and even 6-12
months later 62% remained gambling free.
Adrian Scarfe, Counselling Manager at GamCare, said 'We offer a quality and
professional service at GamCare and are justifiably proud of our high
success rate. We are also proud of the fact that last year 31% of clients
who came for face-to-face counselling were from the ethnic minorities.
However, we constantly need to keep pace with the year on year growth in
client demand. Given the resources, as well as wanting to increase our
helpline capacity, we have plans to introducing group and family
counselling, a counselling facility for women problem gamblers and
counselling projects with different ethnic communities. We have already set
up Chinese language counselling within the Chinese community in London.'
Most gamblers were aged between 26-25 so in line with other research betting
at 50% featured as the biggest problem area followed by slot machines (35%),
casinos(5%) and spread betting (3%).
GamCare has noticed a changing trend in both the overall complexity of the
problem gambler and in that a significant number are getting into trouble
with a number of activities rather than just slot, betting or casino games.
This charity is the national centre addressing the social impact of
gambling. It delivers programmes that raise awareness of the issues,
promote responsible gambling and provide services to help problem gamblers
and their families.
It is the largest provider of counselling services for those affected by a
gambling dependency and the only national organisation developing a range of
education and harm minimisation information.
Further information about the work of the charity can be found at
www.gamcare.org.uk or by contacting its
registered office at : ………………….
National Gambling Helpline 0845 6000 133
Paul Bellringer, Director: Tel: 020 7233 8988, Fax: 020 7233 8977
Adrian Scarfe, Counselling Manager: Tel: 020 7259 0779, Fax: ………..