Gambling industry urged to support services for problem punters

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A charity has called on all organisations that profit from gambling to help fund support services for problem punters after figures showed just 3% are receiving help.

GambleAware, formerly known as the Responsible Gambling Trust, said advertisers, lotteries and professional sports clubs as well as the industry itself should contribute to research, education and treatment services.

The total number of problem gamblers in the UK is estimated at around 250,000, but figures suggest the national network of providers who treat them are only reaching 3% of these, the charity said.

The charity raised £7.6 million over the last year and received donations from more than 80% of British-licensed gambling operators.

But it said an industry-wide contribution of 0.1% of gross gambling yield would amount to around £11 million, and it would be "working hard to encourage other sectors" such as professional sports and media to support its work financially.

Figures suggested the rates of problem gambling had remained broadly stable, and low as a percentage, in spite of the continued growth of the gambling industry, extensive advertising and easier access, particularly through mobile technology.

However the low level of problem gambling across the population masked much higher levels among those who gamble regularly, and within particularly vulnerable groups such as the homeless, ex-military and those in the criminal justice system.

The charity's new chairwoman of trustees, Kate Lampard, said: "Our number one priority is protecting the vulnerable. The most important thing to us is to be able to provide treatment, preventative education and research to minimise the harm caused by gambling.

"Our new strategy makes clear that we hope to work with the gambling industry but we are prepared, when necessary, to challenge the industry in pursuit of our objectives."