|There are now twice as many gamblers attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings in Edinburgh, Scotland as there were a year ago, with professional sportsmen and business people among the new members, according to a report in The Scotsman.|
The report attributes most of the increase the growth of online gambling, with Edinburgh’s relatively affluent, tech-savvy population seen as particularly at risk from what the newspapers calls ‘the craze’.
One unnamed Edinburgh businessman charged £70,000 to his company expenses account in just two months, after emptying his bank account and pushing his credit cards to the limit through Internet gambling. He apparently went through £150,000 on online gambling in a few few months.
An office worker cited by the report admitted to spending up to four hours a day using online casinos at work.
A member of Edinburgh’s GA said: 'In the past year the number of people coming to our meetings has roughly doubled. Last week, there were 25, with five regulars in attendance. Last April we were having 15 or 16.
'About 70 per cent of the new members are addicted to computer gambling. We’ve had businessmen and sportsmen coming in, several of whom are finding themselves addicted to internet gambling.
'I blame the banks and the building societies. They’ve made it far too easy for people to access money. They need to do something about it because it’s causing so much misery and heartache.'
Yet another unnamed problem gambler, who has extensively researched the issue, said: 'There are plenty of people in Edinburgh who are losing £20,000 to £30,000 a week on internet gambling.
'It’s affecting a wider spectrum of people. If you went to Musselburgh races you would see different classes of people in different parts of the course. But the internet wipes those division out. It’s classless.
'Edinburgh is more affected than elsewhere because there is more money available and people tend to be more computer-literate. More and more are getting sucked in.'
Professor Peter Collins, chief executive of the gambling charity Gamcare, said the number of problem gamblers is increasing. Collins, who is also director of the Centre for the Study of Gambling at Salford University, called for regulation to encourage to drive the unregulated offshore internet gambling sites out of business.