How gambling casts a shadow over the lives of 200,000 Scots
MORE than 200,000 Scots are problem gamblers, or at risk of becoming one, new figures have shown.
The Gambling Commission has found that 66 per cent of Scots admitted to gambling in 2016, down from 67.8 per cent from the previous year.
The industry regulator also found around 205,000 people in Scotland were identified as problem gamblers or at risk of developing problems – down from 210,000 in 2015.
Executive director of the commission Tim Miller said: ‘Whilst there has been a drop in the number of people at risk of becoming problem gamblers in Scotland, these figures show there are still 205,000 people across Scotland who are problem or at-risk gamblers.
‘There needs to be a much greater focus on preventing gambling-related harm.’
During the Participation and Rates of Problem Gambling in Scotland Survey 2016, more than 4,000 people were interviewed about their habits.
Researchers found that 66 per cent of people in Scotland gambled, though that fell to 49 per cent when those who had only played the National Lottery were excluded.
They also found 1.3 per cent of those questioned admitted to gambling problems, while another 1 per cent who did not realise they had a problem were highlighted.
From this, the total number of problem and potentially problem gamblers was calculated.
Mr Miller has suggested that local councils should be encouraged to increase their inspections of gambling premises along with ‘tackling illegal gambling and placing a greater focus on vulnerable people’, as outlined in the Gambling Commission strategy report.
He added that the commission would continue to take action to make gambling fairer and safer and work closely with partners across Scotland.
The Gambling Commission also surveyed Wales and England as part of its research.
It found that in Wales 55 per cent of people gambled in 2016 and 45 per cent had taken part in at least one gambling activity over the previous 12 months in 2015 – excluding those who had only played the National Lottery draw.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘We share the concerns expressed by many around the impact of problem gambling in Scotland.
‘The Scottish Government has argued for full devolution of gambling policy to Scotland to enable problem gambling in this country to be tackled more effectively.
‘We encourage any actions that can help reduce the harmful impact of problem gambling and Scottish ministers continue to press the UK Government for meaningful progress on the issues surrounding this.’