Online gambling addiction growing

There has been a huge increase in the number of people struggling with online gambling addiction and the National Problem Gambling Clinic (NPGC) said while 24% of its patients struggled with mobile gambling in 2012-13, this rose to 63% in 2016-17.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act by the NPGC, show 63% of patients said they struggled with mobile gambling, 59% struggled with fixed odds betting terminals and 59% struggled with sports betting in bookmakers, the BBC reported.

The figures also show that 6% of patients reported a problem with bingo.

Software companies are now said to be working on apps to block gambling sites from the phones of problem gamblers while the Remote Gambling Association said it encouraged responsible gambling.

A total of 632 gambling addicts were referred to the NHS clinic in 2012-13. This rose to 778 in 2016-17.

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said it expected the gambling sector to do more on player protection.

“There is clearly more work needed in this area,” the spokesperson said. “We are currently undertaking a review of the gambling sector that includes looking at social responsibility measures across the industry, including protections around gambling advertising.”

The average waiting list for treatment at the NPGC is five months, but the figures show some patients were facing a wait of nearly a year.

Treating addictions, whether these are smoking, drug use or gambling, can be effectively done with clinical hypnotherapy and the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) has more than 1,800 therapists across the UK who can help addicts seeking help.

An addiction or unwanted habit, says the NCH, is a ‘problem behaviour’ which hypnosis can break and overcome.

“If you have an unwanted habit or behaviour, it may often feel as if you are out of control, that there is someone else or something inside of you that is making you do this,” says the NCH. “It’s as if there’s a ‘little voice’ that always tells you to do something when you don’t want to do it. But that little voice is part of you and is part of your protection system.

“As a species we evolved to survive and thrive so our subconscious, the heart of our being, is always creating mechanisms that support this. However, sometimes things get distorted and what your subconscious thinks is a protection mechanism becomes an unwanted habit that causes you upset rather than allowing you to survive and thrive.”

The NCH says the reason why hypnotherapy works so rapidly with bad habits and behaviours is because it works directly with the subconscious, bypassing the critical mind and getting to the root of the issue so that changes can be made quickly and efficiently.

Depending on what you are seeing the therapist for, adds the NCH, they will assess your habit and write a treatment plan for you based on a range of different techniques. Each hypnotherapist will work with you differently.

“Your hypnotherapist will then assess your commitment to the treatment, as the desire to stop the behaviour or change the behaviour must come from you.”

Anti-gambling campaigner Tony Franklin, a recovering addict, would bet thousands of pounds from his mobile phone on casino apps.

“Once you get a gambling account, you can access it from your mobile, from your tablet, anywhere. There’s no escape from it,” he told the BBC. “I was in a management meeting and I was gambling £1,000 a time on a roulette spin on one number.”

He said the government needed to ensure companies check whether customers can afford their bets.

“It is time for the government to wake up,” he said. “We’ve tried self-regulation since the 2005 Gambling Act. It’s clearly not working. Just like the banking industry needs to lend responsibly, gambling companies need to have a responsibility to ensure people play responsibly.”