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GambleAware Says Two-Thirds of Problem Gamblers Hide Their Problem

Determining the actual number of problem gamblers in any given country is a pretty tricky task, especially when self-reporting is involved. A new report from Gamble Aware, a UK advocacy group for issues related to problem gambling, suggests that at as many as two-thirds of UK residents with gambling issues are hiding their problems and not seeking out help of any kind.

The new study, GambleAware Stigma Polling, polled 4,207 UK residents between the ages of 18-75 on their gambling habits. Among the respondents who answered affirmatively about having a gambling problem, about 64 percent said they’d never talked to anyone about that problem. Of that group, 34 percent said that the stigma of being unable to control their gambling was the reason.

While not every problem gambler hides his or her problem forever, the study found that those who do seek help tend to take a long time to make that decision. Approximately 67 percent of those problem gamblers who did seek help waited a year or more before actually getting some help.

The upside for these folks is that once they do start talking about their problem, they start feeling better. Nearly 75 percent of respondents who talked about their problem said it helped them feel better and 63 percent said they wished they’d sought help sooner.

GambleAware chief executive Zoë Osmond emphasized the importance of seeking help for problem gambling saying, “It’s alarming to see the number of people who are struggling in isolation,” said. “As a hidden addiction, gambling harms can be incredibly hard to spot from the outside.

“It is therefore critical that people impacted are aware of the wide range of support services available and that they feel safe to come forward. Anyone can be impacted by gambling harms, but the first step is to open up and have that first conversation, ideally as early as possible.”