In the UK, a national newspaper has claimed that the numbers of people seeking help for problem gambling has risen by 25 percent since the Government relaxed rules on bookmakers and casinos advertising.
According to The Mail On Sunday, nearly 38,000 people called a betting addiction hotline last year compared with just over 30,000 in the previous twelve months. In addition, the average debt rose from $23,939 to $30,357 with seven per cent of callers admitting to owing more than $173,000.
The tabloid publication quoted figures from Gamcare's annual report that the record 37,806 calls it received to its helpline last year was a 25 percent increase on 2006’s figures. In addition, the addiction advice service revealed that it had received 1,407 requests for help online.
Those seeking help were most commonly between the ages of 26 and 35, said the centre-right newspaper, while a worrying proportion, between three and four percent, were under 18. In addition, it stated that the number of women problem gamblers ringing the helpline jumped from 13 to 18 percent to comprise nearly a fifth of callers.
Figures showed that almost 60 percent of those who telephoned were involved in gambling on fixed-odds terminals or staking money over-the-counter on horses, greyhounds and football while another fifth played fruit machines. Thirty percent of those who had sought help via the website revealed that they had problems with table games such as poker, roulette and other card games and approximately half placed bets in bookmakers' shops with nearly one in seven gambling online.
The newspaper revealed that women problem gamblers were more likely to fritter away money on table games, fruit machines, bingo or scratchcards and stated that Gamcare had increased the number of its counselling sessions last year by 36 percent to 9,594.