Many people in the United Kingdom can partake of gambling as a form of entertainment and really enjoy it. However, there are others who have a serious problem with addiction and addictive behavior. The National Health Service reported that a record number of gambling addicts were put in the hospital last year. Their gambling addiction was so severe it required hospitalization. Over 100 addicts were hospitalized last year, which represents a 50 percent increase in admissions in one year alone.
UK Gambler History
Gambling as a form of entertainment has been a pastime in the UK since the Middle Ages. Evidence of wagers and payments on horse racing have been found from as far back as the late Middle Ages. During that time period, British citizens wagered on horse races. Sports wagering in betting shops has been a part of life in the UK since the late 19th century. When British troops came back from World War II they wanted casino houses and poker parlors. They learned about both from soldiers in other locations they met during the war. Americans played card games such as poker, while the French and Italian soldiers talked of casino games. Casinos weren’t legalized in the United Kingdom until the 1950s.
In the United Kingdom, sports bets have continued to be enormously popular. There are betting shops all over the country. Gaming terminals with fixed odds can be found all over the country as well.
The Hospitalization of Gambling Addicts
It is estimated in the UK that 70 percent of adults have gambled at one time or another. They either placed a sports bet, or they picked up a lottery ticket. Some visited casinos or poker rooms. It is believed that at least 300,000 of the millions of gamblers in UK have a gambling disorder.
Of those 300,000 people, the 100 people hospitalized for a severe gambling problem represent people doctors called “pathological” gamblers. In 2000, the WHO proclaimed gambling addiction was a form of mental illness. Five people were hospitalized. Social agencies worry that the increase in gambling hospitalizations is only the beginning.
Gambling as Entertainment or Addiction?
Gamblers who were hospitalized suffered from a severe mental illness that gambling made worse, according to the National Health Service. Research has indicated that some forms of gambling are more addictive than others. Experts say that 1.4 percent of all gamblers in the UK become problem gamblers. However, the gamers that regularly play the fixed odds betting terminals have a much higher rate. Eleven and a half percent of people who play FOBTs have gambling problems. The National Health Service stated that they estimate two people commit suicide each working day because of their gambling addiction. Calls into the Gamecare healthline, which works to help gamblers with addiction is up 30 percent over four years. The call center received 30,000 calls in 2017 for information about hospitalization and treatment of gambling addiction.
Doctors at the National Health Service have said many people gamble without an issue; however, some people can’t. For them, a gambling disorder is a symptom of a larger mental health disorder that requires hospitalization and treatment. Mental health disorders among those with severe gambling addiction range from severe depression, anxiety, and even psychosis. Doctors have called for additional revenue from gambling to go into the treatment of severe gambling addiction in the country.
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