19 September 2007

A quarter of a million problem gamblers is too many

The Methodist Church has said that it is relieved by the results of the Gambling Commission's prevalence study, published today. The study shows that the number of problem gamblers is the same as the previous study in 1999 and the number of people gambling is, if anything, slightly lower.

The Methodist Church has also welcomed the finding that attitudes to gambling are more negative than positive.

Anthea Cox, Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice said; "While we are relieved that the number of problem gamblers has not risen, there are still far too many. This authoritative study gives a clear picture of the situation before the implementation of the Gambling Act on 1 September this year.

"The Government have always said that the Act provides greater safeguards for people who are vulnerable to problem gambling; it is now for them and the Gambling Commission to implement the Act so as to ensure that these predictions come true. We want the next study in three years time to show a fall in the number of problem gamblers. We remain concerned about the increase in online gambling and betting; the study clearly shows that these are high risk for problem gambling".

The Methodist Church is calling for increased funds for help and treatment for problem gamblers and for a major programme to raise awareness of the risks of gambling. With the Salvation Army it has produced "Against the Odds", which gives the facts about gambling, discusses a Christian response, lists sources of help and suggests what people can do if they are concerned about gambling.

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