In the UK internet gambling is set to take in about £2 billion this year. The increase has been fueled by middle class women gambling on the internet. According to some ‘experts’ one million people are at risk for gambling addiction. The ‘experts’ say that the internet allows gamblers to bet excessively without the social stigma associated with gambling addiction. Busybodies now say gambling is as serious a problem as alcoholism and has called for changes which include protecting children from ‘aggressive’ advertisements and promotions for internet gambling sites. Some say the increase in internet gambling came after the labour government lifted the ban on radio and television advertising by casinos, bookmakers and internet gambling sites as part of the 2005 Gambling Act.
The act went into effect in 2007m and some say that the subsequent rash of advertising for online casinos helped internet gaming revenues to hit £1.71 billion in 2011. The figure is expected to hit £2 billion in 2013. The increase will be driven by gambling on mobile devices. Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, the founder and director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, stated “The proliferation of online gambling has brought into the home an activity that was historically male dominated. Women patients have reported that online gambling has made it possible for them to gamble excessively without the fear of social stigma.” She said some of her patients are women who gamble online while their children are present. Bowden-Jones added: “We need to protect children from gambling-related material appearing on their mobile phones and computer screens. If we manage this, we will be ensuring a safer future for our children.”
Labour MP Kevin Hopkins told reporters “I have been very concerned about alcoholism for a long time, but problem gambling is just as bad. I have two close friends – university-educated people – who are compulsive gamblers and now every penny they have has to be controlled by their wives. At least with other forms of gambling you have to go out of the house to do it. You can’t lose your life savings playing bingo, but on the internet you can go on and on.” In recent years the proportion of women who gamble has risen by a third to almost half of the female population.
Figures in the British Gambling Prevalence Survey for 2010 found that about 1.8% of the adult population, about 900,000 people were at ‘moderate risk’ of developing a gambling problem. Current estimates say there are about 450,000 problem gamblers in the UK. GamCare, a service for people with a gambling problem, said that visits to its website increased by 100,000 in 2012 and predicts that number will increase in 2013.