The 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey showed 73% of adults in Great Britain had gambled in the past year, that is about 35.5 million adults!
About 1-2% of gamblers are found to be problem gamblers, making 355,000 to 710,000 adults with a form of gambling addiction. This small group can generate 30% – 60% of revenues for machine-gambling games in casinos and businesses.
This group of gambling addicts is built not only by developing a bad habit but it has also been shown there is a genetic and familial trait. Those who have parents with gambling problems have a 50% chance of also becoming pathological gamblers.
The split between men and women is about equal. Men tend to start gambling younger while women are skewed towards an onset of gambling from ages 35 to 40.
A gambling disorder is also broken down by age brackets. Gambling addiction is associated with the drug like high for young people, economic problems for middle age people, and health problems for people 55 years and older.
Once a compulsive gambler seeks help they are often in a large amount of debt, typically around £60,000 to £100,000. Of this group, 80% have seriously considered suicide as a way out, having run themselves, their families, and their livelihoods into the ground. Unfortunately, before they turn to help, anywhere from 13% to 20% either attempt suicide or succeed.
Of people in treatment for gambling addiction, roughly 2/3 have committed crimes to continue their addiction. Of this group, 47% admit to white-collar crimes from fraud, embezzlement, arson, and forgery. A study of London problem gamblers showed that around 20% work in the financial sector.
The good news
Gambling addiction can be treated and has a high success rate. There are many triggers that we understand very well that drive problem gambling. Once you have the tools and knowledge to address those triggers and have unpacked negative behaviours and thinking, you can confidently work towards bettering your life and leaving gambling behind.