Help for problem gamblers
By Paul
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

sporting weekend.

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 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: ………..


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