Dr Emily Arden-Close; Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Bournemouth University and Counsellor Diana Parkinson gave their views on the matter.
Sputnik: Why has gambling addiction become so prevalent in the UK?
Dr Emily Arden Close: There’s a lot of advertising about gambling, for example; I remember back in 2018 watching the World Cup with my son, who was only eight years old and there were gambling adverts on all the time, and actually the gambling industry seemed to be quite proud about the increase in gambling, they said that in previous World Cups it had been one in ten women who bet and now it’s one in three, so they saw that as a positive thing.
Up until recently; it’s been possible to gamble with a credit card, so banning this was a really positive step, but with regards to what’s been done about it, there is support for gamblers, so, for example, there is the national problem gambling clinic, and there are also residential treatment centres set up by charities, the issue is that they only have a limited number of beds and it’s quite a long programme, so it can take very few people.
Diana Parkinson: It used to be in the old days that you had to walk to a betting shop and place a bet, but nowadays it is twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and people can place bets on their mobile phones, so they are not actually physically placing money down in front of them, so it’s extremely worrying.
People might win the odd time, but betting companies make vast sums of money, so anybody who places a bet is probably going to lose all their money, It’s incredibly destructive.
Sputnik: How can the issue be resolved?
Dr Emily Arden Close: The national problem gambling clinic is provided through the NHS, but it’s been less more known about, so GPs wouldn’t necessarily be aware of it, and I think a lot of people have not been aware about the support available for problem gambling, so a lot of problem gamblers would be less likely to be treated unless they had a concurrent addiction, and also with the stigma around gambling, maybe people just didn’t want to come forward.
I don’t think it’s fair to expect the NHS to be able to provide that service, they are not creating it, it’s not a problem that’s been created by accident, this is companies deliberately, kind of legally stealing money from people, so why shouldn’t they pay to help people who do succumb to addiction from gambling?
Sputnik: Should gambling be banned outright in the UK?
Dr Emily Arden Close: I think it needs to be regulated much more than it is at present, as it is a bit too unregulated, but I don’t think actually banning gambling would be the solution, partly because it is quite a part of people’s lives, and also part of my concern is that if it is banned; then it might go underground.
Diana Parkinson: Probably it would be safer if it was illegal, because as long as gambling is around; unfortunately there will be people who are addicted to it and usually they are people who are quite desperate to make money, so they already don’t have any money and are desperate to get some money, but of course they just end up losing more and more, homes and families are destroyed by this and the betting firms never ever lose.