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Problem Gambling Clinic Opens in UK


by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor

                More vehicles for aid with problem gambling have opened up in the industry, as UK National Health took the initiative to provide advice and treatment for problem gamers. A clinic has been opened in Soho, west London, where gambling addicts may turn for help.

                The clinic will undergo a 12 month trial period, but has already attracted a great deal of attention. Among the employees will be psychiatrists, psychologists, family therapists, debt management experts from the Citizens Advice Bureau and others.

                Lead consultant psychiatrist Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones commented, “We have developed a unique treatment package to address specific difficulties that are common to problem gamblers. Due to the nature of their addition, gamblers’ finances are often in bad shape so an important part of treatment is to tackle debt management and employment issues. We also address the needs of clients’ partners and family members who have been affected by their gambling disorder and any coexisting mental health conditions such as depression.”

                Since the question of internet casino gambling’s relation to gaming addictions has arisen, there have been several studies to show the percentage of problems gambling in the UK. The British Gambling Prevalence Survey of 2007, instituted by the UK Gambling Commission, shows that 0.6 percent of the adult population of the British Isles were associated with problem gambling. This is nearly the same number as last year. According to the study, men are more susceptible to problem gambling than women, at younger ages.

                The highest rates of problem gambling were found in people who participate in spread betting at 14.7 percent, followed by fixed odds betting terminals at 11.2 percent and betting exchanges at 9.8 percent.

                To dispel the idea that internet casino gambling makes for the majority of gaming problems, studies in 2007 that included internet gamblers for the first time showed that only 6 percent of the British population gambled on the internet, and that 6 percent of that population had a gambling addiction.

                In actuality, the British National Lottery Draw was the most popular form of gambling, making up 57 percent of the gambling population, however this number decreased 65 percent from a 1999 study.

                Scratch cards were the second most popular form of betting, with 20 percent of people buying them, followed by 17 percent of horse race bettors and 14 percent of slot machine users.

                What’s most disturbing to the public, is that the opening of this clinic is the first in history funded by the government, while online gambling websites and land casinos donate much of their profits to problem gambling research.

                A clinical psychologist, Dr. Janet Brotchie said, “Gambling can eggect anyone and we’ve been taken by the diversity of the clients enrolled. They are from a range of ethnic groups and all backrounds.”

                She continues to say, “The evidence for effective treatment in gambling is limited. But we will be evaluating everything we do. Our job as a one year pilot is to look at the effectiveness of the treatment approach in the UK.”