Addiction experts call for tighter regulations on online gambling sites
BBC One Panorama last night aired its “Addicted to Gambling” show in which it explored how the UK has the largest online gambling platform in the world, and that just 4% of players make the online gambling industry a massive 78% profit.
The show comes at a time when leading addiction treatment providers UKAT reveal for the first time that the number of people they’re treating for gambling addiction is rising at an alarming rate, warning that the online gambling craze is creating a generation of ‘secret and dangerous gamblers’.
Their data reveals that they’ve seen a 70% rise in the number of gambling addicts being admitted from 2017 to 2018, and a staggering 500% rise in admissions in just three years.
The NHS suggests that there are over 600,000 problem gamblers in the UK, that 5% seek help for their problem with only 1% actually ever receiving treatment.
UKAT has also analysed a recent report published by HM Revenue & Customs in April this year which shows that the taxman’s income from General Betting Duty has almost doubled in the last three years, rising from £377 million in 2015 to a staggering £636 million last year.
They warn that slamming high tax bills on the big betting firms won’t solve the problem, that focus and attention needs to be given to the online gambling industry in particular;
“Gambling online allows people to spend thousands of pounds every day. These people could lose their life’s savings in minutes. The Government recognised this from FOBT’s in betting shops, but it’s the same for online platforms too. Being able to gamble on your phone has created a new type of gambler; one that would never have gone into a bookie, but one who will happily tap three times on their phone and gamble away their month’s wage. When the fun stops for an online gambler, who’s there to help them stop?” asks UKAT’s Managing Director and recovering gambling addict, Eytan Alexander.
He warns “Gambling addiction is every bit as real as Heroin addiction. It consumes a person both mentally and physically, destroys relationships with family and friends and in some cases, costs lives.
“It’s time we took our head out of the sand about this and started to address the elephant in the room; online gambling is a problem bubbling under the surface and unless we address it now, it will cause a crisis like no other.”
For more information on gambling addiction, including how to spot signs of gambling addiction, visit ukat.co.uk/gambling-addiction/