Over the past few years casinos and online gambling in the UK have been subject to many newspaper stories, leading many to believe that an increased number of people were gambling, with the possibility of a large proportion succumbing to gambling addiction. However, the recently released British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2007 has proven otherwise, surprising those who held preconceptions about the numbers of gamblers in the UK, as well as gambling trends.
Many hypothesized that the survey would indicate a huge increase in the amount of gambling taking place, with special emphasis on those who chose to wager their money online. However, the survey revealed that actual gambling figures for the year have remained almost at the same levels as they were back in 1999, proving that the anticipated increase in gambling numbers hasn’t materialised and suggests that there are not as many problem gamblers as previously thought.
The number of ways people can gamble has certainly increased in recent years, with the huge variety of scratch cards available, as well as new casino openings and the advent of online gambling. In fact, the number of online gambling websites has increased massively in recent times, along with the variety of games available to play and the ease at which users can wager their funds on these websites. It was this area increase in particular that led many to speculate on the potential gambling addiction problem in the UK.
The report shows that around 32 million adults have participated in some form of gambling activity within the past year, which includes the National Lottery and the instantly gratifying and readily-available ‘instant win’ scratch cards. Of these people only 6 percent placed wagers online, while only 3 percent gambled online by playing poker or casino games or placed bets with a bookmaker using the internet.
These facts are probably surprising considering the amount of press that online gambling has received in the past, especially since the survey also revealed that the number of “problem gamblers” is a mere 250,000 people – accounting for less than one percent of the total number of gamblers.
Of course there has been a lot of feedback from politicians and religious groups as well as the general feeling of the public. Although the study reveals many facts about the gambling situation in the UK, there is always more room for debate to consider the effects gambling has on society and on those who develop problems. As the debate stands in the aftermath of the report however, it looks as though the laws regulating gambling will remain untouched although there will probably be further inquiries into the regulation of online gambling.
By Andrew Regan
Andrew Regan is an online, freelance author from Scotland. He is a keen rugby player and enjoys travelling.