The UK government spends considerable time warning of the dangers of drug and alcohol addiction and eating disorders, rightly so. Gambling addiction though is mentioned far less often despite the obvious dangers. Politicians in north America have recently begun to act against problem gambling, with mixed results.
In March 2007 an extensive government report was released in Saskatchewan USA attempting to establish the relationship between electronic gambling machines and problem casino gambling. Many possible modifications to the gambling slot machines were considered as a means of helping to inhibit gambling addiction. One of the suggestions thought to be useful, was to attach a clock to each machine to draw the gambling addict’s attention to the amount of time they had spent playing there. Other ideas were to fix the mechanisms to slow play down or to set spending limits…features that already existed on video lottery terminals installed in bars.
However it was noted that the machine manufacturers had indicated that they had no plans to build machines with these features. The reason given being that Saskatchewan was the only province requesting them and that plans were already afoot to produce machines that made it easier, rather than harder, for people to gamble by linking slot machines to bank accounts!
That sounds rather ominous, but since then huge strides forward have been made by casinos in the USA with the activation of self-exclusion programmes. These make it possible for any person to sign up voluntarily to banning themselves from a casino; with the risk of arrest for trespass or forfeit of any winnings should they be discovered gambling. This act of enrolment is now widely regarded as being an acknowledgement of a gambling addiction and an attempt to signify that the person signing up actually wants to seek gambling addiction treatment.
Gambling addictions are under the radar
In the UK it seems strange that the government introduces laws to inhibit drinking and driving, dangerous drugs, smoking in public places and carrying weapons, when almost anything to do with gambling addiction appears to receive little or no attention.
Alcoholism and obesity are already being looked at in the context of the pressure that these conditions could ultimately place on the NHS. But gambling, that so often not only adversely affects the health of the gambling addicts but also the health, indeed often the lives, of those who care about them, seems to be under the radar.
Maybe this has something to do with numbers. In the British Isles there are reckoned to be around 250,000 problem gamblers, whereas there are around 3.8 million persons considered alcohol dependent and 1.3 million people defined as morbidly obese.
So who does care about people with gambling addiction symptoms – well Life Works cares! We are able to offer you a range of really effective treatments to help you to take firm control of your gambling addiction and you are welcome to come along and chat with us about how we can help you. If you want to begin to do something about this right now, just pick up the phone and call us.