Gambling Reform & Society Perception

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David Lammy MP, on problem gambling – February 2011
Unless we establish some speed limits on the road, we are only going to need more and more ambulances.

Society Perception

GRASP believes that public awareness should of been raised regarding the potential dangers of gambling, the moment the government announced the 2005 Gambling Act and opened up advertising.

If you take something that is potentially addictive and deregulate it, the 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey is proof of what happens.

David Cameron said recently ‘Drugs will not be made legal, because they harm society!’ – Well I’m afraid the 2005 Gambling Act is harming society.

The industry and the Gambling Commission were quick to say ‘It’s just a blip in the figures!’

It is important to add that NatCen, who were responsible for carrying out BGPS10 and writing the report of the survey, are very cautious in their interpretation of any results which they produce. They therefore looked hard at the possibility that the apparently increased problem prevalence might be explained as an artefact of, for example, the changing socio-demographic makeup of the general British population or any possible changes in the way the survey was administered. They have not found any such factor to be responsible and therefore conclude that it is mostly likely that BGPS10 has picked up a real increase in prevalence of problem gambling.

Society need to be made aware of the dangers of problem gambling. Unlike other addictions, you won’t get any physical signs that anything is wrong, but you can look for clues of the illness. Unlike other addictions where the body can only take so much or the mind/personality is not capable to gain favour or hold down a job, gamblers can hide their secret addiction, carefully plotting each hit, which in turn ends up punishing people who don’t even have an addiction with devastating effects.

A problem gambler is an ill person and genuinely believes the next bet will save them. Gambling is one of the only addictions where the user believes that one more hit will solve all their problems. Alcoholics or drug users know that what they’re doing is harming them, but can you imagine an addiction where you believe one more hit could take away all your problems and make everything better.

This is how the delusional mind of the gamblers works. People often say its not an illness, but its listed as an illness in the World Health Organization – International Classification of Diseases and the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Society also says addiction is a choice but research proves that addiction is not a choice. Addictive behaviours are a manifestation of the disease, not a cause.

The BGPS10 highlighted why education and awareness needs to be raised significantly. Problem Gambling prevalence has increased most in those aged 16-44 and according to BGPS10 prevalence amongst all 16-24 year olds is now in excess of 2% (over 3% for 16-24 year old past year gamblers, and 4% for 16-24 year old male past year gamblers).

More worryingly the BGPS10 does not include under-16s but there is a great deal of other research evidence from Britain and elsewhere that younger adolescents (12-15 year olds) are more vulnerable to problem gambling than adults. It is therefore a continual source of surprise that our government allows children and adolescents to play category D gaming machines. The Budd report expressed unease about this, and Government, aware of widespread concern, promised a review of this aspect of regulations. This anomaly, that no other western country allows, should be put right.

Ordinary people who before 2005 wouldn’t of been exposed to gambling are now find themselves which huge problems. The industry targets women with attractive bingo offers, which are not attractive after you read the small print. Students being targeted at freshers week all flush with a new student loan. Just because gambling is legal, it doesn’t mean its acting within the moral compass.

FOBT’s are the saviour of the high street bookie. 2011 will be the first year that FOBT machine revenue (only allowed 4 per shop) will outweigh the total of every other betting event put together. This is why the industry doesn’t want to pay the current horse racing levy as it has a new friend where it can totally control the outcome and satisfies addicts with a bet every 20 seconds and discreet deposits can be done with your debit card so you don’t have to waste time feeding notes in.

The BGPS10 stated that the number of form of gambling which is associated with a relatively high problem gambling prevalence are FOBT’s. Percentage days play and spend attributable to problem gamblers between 20% and 30%, and a reported average monthly spend more than twice as great as that reported for other forms of machine gambling (in-person or online).

Please help GRASP put problem gambling out there. It’s the taboo addiction that’s society thinks is a money problem for uneducated people. We don’t doubt that it’ll be difficult, every problem gambler GRASP meets was an expert who never lost before everything came crashing down around them and their lies exposed.

Please view our awareness campaign. Recovery from gambling is a long road, but it’s a road you shouldn’t do alone. Millions of adults in this country have a problem with gambling and if you join our cause, you can stop more people suffering like you have and something good can come from it whilst you recover.

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