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Problem gambling rise in Scotland

9 May 2022

The number of people in Scotland seeking help for problem gambling rose sharply during the pandemic, new analysis shows.

Calls to the charity Gamstop, which provides free support, have risen by 23 per cent since the start of the pandemic, with more than 200,000 Scots now thought to be addicted or at risk of addiction.

Separate research into gambling habits across the UK confirmed a rise in betting activity across the home nations during the pandemic period.

Research by the Gambling Commission published last month found that in the year to March 2022, overall participation in gambling activity significantly increased to 43%.

Younger Brits were most affected. Around 35% of 16-24-year-olds surveyed by the Commission said they have gambled in the past four weeks - an increase of 5%.

The figures also demonstrated a rise in online betting, with an unprecedented 1 in 4 people making a wager online in the last year.

Ross Hendry, CEO of CARE, commented:

"These statistics provide yet more evidence of the grip the gambling industry has on our society and should reanimate debate about the resultant dangers. For most people, gambling is a bit of fun but for a significant and growing minority, it is a gateway to an addiction that ruins lives, families and communities.

"The situation is made far worse by our outdated gambling laws, which are not fit for purpose having been drafted before the proliferation of online betting and advertising across various media. Ministers know the gravity of the situation and the need to bring stricter regulation, yet they have delayed a whitepaper on reform.

"People are suffering, acutely, and will go on suffering until the government brings proper regulation that is fit for the 21st century. We urge them to do so now."

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While for some, gambling is just harmless fun, for a significant minority it causes genuine devastation. Our vision is to see laws passed that will help protect vulnerable problem gamblers.

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