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Sunday, June 21, 2015

The astronomical figures that show Wales has a huge gambling problem

In the US, we just pretend and deny the existence of Predatory Gambling Addiction.

The astronomical figures that show Wales has a huge gambling problem

Wales' first gambling conference called When Luck Runs Out will take place in the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay on Wednesday, June 24

Julie Pritchard, right, and her late father Francis

Addiction experts have warned that Wales has “a serious gambling problem” after figures revealed gamblers are staking BILLIONS of pounds every year.

The most recent data from The Gambling Commission has revealed that Welsh gamblers staked more than £1.6bn on fixed odds betting terminals in 2012 and lost nearly £52m.

Clive Wolfendale, chief executive of CAIS drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Wrexham, described gambling addiction as “one of the key challenges of our age”.

Average person gambles £675 a year

Because addicted gamblers pour their winnings back into the terminals, the figures for the total amount staked are astronomical.
According to the research, there were nearly 1,500 fixed odds betting terminals in Wales in 2012 and the average person staked £675 during the year.

Gamblers in Newport bet an average of £1,191 over the year, compared to £1,121 in Wrexham and £1,053 in Cardiff.

The British gambling industry generated a gross yield of more than £6.8 billion between April 2013 and March 2014, an increase of 6% on the previous year.

Figures show that 68% of men and 61% of women in England gambled in 2012.

Aside from the research into fixed odds betting terminals, there is little data available on gambling in Wales and campaigners are calling for more research to be carried out into the problem.

How many are problem gamblers?

“There are no statistics gathered about problematic gambling and gambling disorder in Wales,” explained Tim Leighton, of Action on Addiction.

Estimates based on the English Health Survey from 2012 suggest that 1.8% of men and 0.2% of women are problem gamblers, with more than a third of the men aged between 16 and 24.

Extrapolation of the findings suggests there are currently around 114,000 problem gamblers in Wales.

“We are a nation with a serious gambling problem,” said Wynford Ellis Owen, chief executive of recovery centre Living Room Cardiff.

“Spending on fixed odds betting terminals in Cardiff, Newport and Wrexham, for example, is on a par with the more populated cities of Bristol, Coventry and Edinburgh.”

Gambling 'too easy'

He suggested that smart phones and tablets have aggravated the problem, by allowing people to gamble at any time of day, without having to leave their homes.

Reflecting on the consequences, he said: “Gambling is a major cause of indebtedness and sometimes, people can fall into criminality to pay their debts.”

He added: “People often gamble in secret, which means they are living a lie.

“When parents are preoccupied by gambling, they are not there for their children. Families feel the suffering most acutely and they do not have anywhere to turn.”

'Non-existent' support

After researching the provision of support services in Wales, Living Room Cardiff concluded that support for gambling addiction was “almost nonexistent”.

In response, they have helped to organise Wales’ first gambling conference, called When Luck Runs Out, which will take place in Cardiff Bay next week.
They have collaborated with an Australian charity, The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, to form a group called Beat The Odds.

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