February 15, 2011 / 12:42 PM / 8 years ago

Problem gambling getting worse in Britain: study

A contestant covers his cards during a poker tournament in London, October 1, 2008. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of problem gamblers in Britain has increased since 2007 and the proportion of adults who gamble has risen, according to a study published by the Gambling Commission, the industry regulator.

The Gambling Prevalence Survey 2010 showed that problem gambling, defined by the commission as “gambling to a degree that compromises, disrupts or damages family, personal or recreational pursuits,” had risen to a level of 0.9 percent of the adult population — equivalent to around 451,000 people.

That is an increase on the figure of 0.6 percent of the population shown in the last survey in 2007.

It did not explain the rise but showed the number of adult gamblers had risen to 73 percent of the population, or 35.5 million people, compared with 68 percent in 2007.

“The survey confirms that there are a significant and growing number of people who take part in gambling,” said Brian Pomeroy, the Gambling Commission’s chairman.

“However, it also indicates that a small, but probably growing, proportion of the population have serious problems with their gambling. This reinforces our determination to see that gambling regulation continues to both minimize the risk to those individuals and ensure that the majority of people can continue to gamble safely,” he added.

The rate of problem gamblers is similar to those in other European countries, the commission said, but lower than in the United States, Australia and South Africa.

The survey showed that only a small proportion gambled online. The one form of gambling shown to be declining in popularity was the football pools.

The most popular form of gambling was the National Lottery, which 59 percent of the population had bought tickets for.

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