Problem gambling in the UK has become a health issue that evolves and pairs with times and circumstances.
With the increasing popularity of online and mobile betting over conventional gaming, its prevalence on everyday use platforms has made problem gamblers proportionally paired in figures.
GamStop, the UK Gambling Commission scheme that ensures the self-exclusion of customers across all licensed gambling operators.
Despite the scheme having little more than 2 years of operation it has detected a series of conditions that define the figure of the “average” British problem gambler, that desperately seeks help.
The Face of Problem Gambler
Among the several conditions detected, the following are the most common findings that defined an increasingly common figure, that in last years made online gambling earn the moniker as the “hidden epidemic”.
The lack of stable income is a prevalent condition for problem gamblers. As gambling becomes their sole concern, they eventually lose their jobs, ending with very unstable income sources and seeking debt, the abuse of social welfare, and even the engagement of criminal activities to fulfil their fix.
Some unemployed gamblers join non GamStop live online casinos at NonStopCasino.org to earn some money for living.
An Increasing Young Men Issue.
The UKGC showed in its last consumer report that the average online gamblers are young men aged between 25-34 years old.
While the proportion of gamblers between gender has become more egalitarian, (51% males vs 49% females) the prevalent gender in online problem gambling have always been males.
Many of these cases have been profiled and revealed a pattern Gambling starts at underage
Research has shown that many problem gamblers started their habit since teenagers. Despite being illegal in the UK to allow a wager to a minor, 2 thirds of children engage in gambling activities.
The lack of proper identification verification controls of many operators is an open gate for kids willing to prove themselves with a habit that later will go after them.
One of the bigger risks for a problem gambler is the development of psychosis or loss with reality.
As problem gamblers find in the habit an escape from their everyday problems, the increased dopamine levels caused by the activity triggers the psychosis especially in those who suffer an underlying mental condition of schizophrenia, bipolar syndrome, and depression.
Lack of Wellbeing
Depression is a constant in the lives of problem gamblers. In its most extreme form, problem gamblers end suffering body compulsions (because of the lack of nutrition), delusion, and hallucinations, all of them linked to the harm of the habits.
The complete lack of care is seen especially when they lose complete control of their sphincters, soiling themselves without interrupting their gambling
There are also additional factors that slowly draw people (especially children) to the hazards of online problem gambling.
The younger demographics of problem gamblers are associated with the prevalence of mobile and remote devices for gambling.
With 76% over 16-24 and 72% over 25-34 age groups being its major representatives. is not unrealistic to consider that the next wave of problem gamblers will be almost exclusively caused by mobile betting.
Normalization of gambling
Another checkbox is the perception of gambling as an integral part of British culture. The strong historical component and decades of advertisement have made gambling almost a necessity, especially in sports.
With players and clubs sponsored by betting operators and matches spammed with micro adverts and in-game betting making the exposure to gambling non-discriminatory.
The issue initially led to a watershed. But the increasing problem gambling cases due to social distancing demanded a complete ban on gambling advertisements on every public media along with sports.
Gambling in social media
While betting real-money in gambling for an underage is punishable by law. Making use of gambling mechanics and features is a loophole that many game developers have used in the past decade to attract customers.
Instead of investing in wagers, invest money in their avatar, and non-exchangeable credits to keep playing.
While appearing innocent, social gambling still builds the foundation for gambling behaviour, with players eventually making the switch to real betting (and losing).
Reconsidering National Priorities
Although the UK’s severe problem gambler average is still below the worldwide average of 1% with all the detected precedents, the figure is only expected to increase.
The measures enforced by the UK Gambling Commission, such as the use of credit and prepaid card banking, the reduction of incentives from VIP plans, are still insufficient to curb down a situation derived from earlier practices that its real extent wasn’t fully considered except for the most unscrupulous operators.
But the conflict between customer protection and civil liberties doesn’t have to end with moral and social cost as collaterals.
With all cards on the table, only a responsible approach from operators and its enforcement will finally remove the lamented figure of problem gambling.