How gam­bling casts a shadow over the lives of 200,000 Scots

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Chloe Castle­berry

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.’

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