According to a report published by industry regulator, the UK Gambling Commission, more than two million people are either addicted to gambling or at risk of developing a problem.
The 2010-update finds that the number of risk gamblers has increased to over 500,000, meaning that 3.9% of the UK’s population is classed as ‘at risk.’ Moreover, 1.4% of gamblers, which is an equivalent to a 0.8% of the total population, are classified as addicts.
Problematic gambling is more prevalent among middle-age employed males. Breaking the figures down, men, representing 66% of total gamblers, are more likely to betting than women, only 59%. Additionally, those in employment or trained tend to gamble, 69% compared to the participation among unemployed and retired, 56% and 57% respectively.
Moreover, participation was highest amongst the middle age groups and lowest within the youngest and oldest age groups.
Despite the heavy criticism that fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) have recently received, the most popular gambling activities were: National Lottery draws (46%), followed by scratchcards (23%) and other lotteries (15%).However, the document submitted by the national regulatory body points out that the types of gaming which are most likely to attract addicts are online gaming, poker played in pubs and clubs, and machines in bookmakers.
Campaigners have urged parliament to take immediate action on the FOBTs and the spreading of gambling advertising. Following this proposal, the government will soon be releasing a review in which it reconsiders new restrictions on gambling adverts and regulations on fixed-odds betting terminals.
Tim Miller, the Gambling Commission Executive Director, said: “We have a clear commitment to make gambling fairer and safer and these figures show that this is a significant challenge. Success will depend upon us, the industry, government and others, all working together with a shared purpose to protect consumers. The pace of change to date simply hasn’t been fast enough – more needs to be done to address problem gambling."