The number of gambling addicts in the UK is rising sharply, according to charity support groups and others involved in monitoring the sector.

One, Gamecare, reports a 34 per cent rise in calls to its helpline between 2005 and 2006. And the British Gambling Prevalence Study reports a rise in the number of “problem gamblers” from 300,000 in 1999 to more than 800,000 today, as the opportunities to gamble, in particular in the area of online betting, have increased tenfold.

The gross revenue of the gambling industry is said to be £9.3 billion, the total number of gamblers to be 40 million and the number of “hopeless addicts” to be around 2% or 1 in 50.

The government, perhaps mindful of the above, has performed a sharp U-turn on its recent promotion of gambling as a way of filling Treasury coffers.

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