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Online casino addiction seen as risky

Gambling (including gambling at online casinos) is likely to become one of Britain’s most serious addictions by 2026 because of relaxed gaming laws and new betting technology such as online casinos, the Government has been told.
A report for the Department of Trade and Industry says that the Government has not paid enough attention to what long-term effect its new online casinos gaming laws will have on the public.
Britain’s online casinos laws, it says, will have problems keeping pace with technological advancements in online casinos gaming, including online casinos, spread betting, fixed-odds betting terminals and betting at online casinos via mobile phone and television.
These new forms of gaming like online casinos suggest that gambling is likely to become a widespread and damaging problem in the next 20 years. Of particular concern is spread-sheet betting, which, the report says, can leave gamblers with huge losses.
Jim Orford, the report’s author, told The Times that all the evidence suggested that the greater the availability of online casinos, the greater problems would be.
However, he said that the problems associated with excessive gambling would be concealed for some time, but that in years to come people would start asking how it had happened.
“The problems are not suddenly going to be in the headlines. The effects on families, in particular, do not get much publicity,” he said. “The Government, strongly pressured by the gaming industry, has gone for a major liberation of gaming and everybody I have spoken to thinks that will increase the number of problem gamblers.”
He said that the Government had not seriously thought about the health implications of relaxing Britain’s traditionally restrictive gambling laws, especially that of online casinos.
“I don’t think they (ministers) gave sufficient attention to the public health aspects of problem gambling, nor did they pay much attention to whether the public really wanted this relaxation,” he said.
Professor Orford, who teaches clinical and community psychology at the University of Birmingham, had been asked by the DTI to look at the long-term effects of gambling. He carried out his study while Parliament was passing the Gambling Act 2005, which lets casino operators expand their business and set up resort casinos, to make it easier to visit a casino.
Professor Orford’s report says that the law has encouraged new forms of gambling like online casinos and ways of accessing gambling that are likely to increase the risk of addiction.
“These include casino resorts, gambling machines with unlimited stakes and prizes, and British (online casinos),” the report says.
“They add to developments such as (online casinos) and spread betting, as well as the numerous new variations of gambling, such as bingo and casino table games, which are likely to increase their addiction liability.”
Gambling at online casinos is expected to grow rapidly and the report gives a warning of the possibility of legalized gambling through mobile phones and digital television.
The study also highlights the danger involved in spread betting.



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