How gambling epidemic costs our economy £1.2bn a year: Landmark study to show shocking problem of betting effect on Britain’s firms and families
The terrible toll of gambling on the economy and society will be revealed in a major report this week.
The landmark study will put the cost to the economy at £1.2billion in 2019/20 in England alone.
The huge cost encompasses the burden of debt on problem gamblers and the effect on relationships and family breakdown, according to the report by Public Health England (PHE).
It covers the negative impact of gambling on jobs and business efficiency, as well as health harms which push up costs for the overstretched NHS.
And it includes the costs to the police of gambling-related crime.
PHE is also understood to conclude there is a clear link between gambling and mental health issues such as depression, suicidal thoughts and alcohol dependence.
And it found that people in the North were more at risk of becoming problem gamblers than those in the South. Men too are more at risk than women.
The huge £1.2billion cost of gambling to the economy of England alone encompasses the burden of debt on problem gamblers and the effect on relationships and family breakdown, according to a report by Public Health England (PHE)
The intervention will pile pressure on Nadine Dorries, the new Culture Secretary, to take tough action on gambling in a white paper due out later this year.
Ministers have already announced that the age at which people can buy National Lottery tickets will rise from 16 to 18.
And it has been reported that gambling firms will be banned from advertising on football shirts.
The Government has also said it is looking at regulating video game ‘loot boxes’ blamed for encouraging gambling among children.
Loot boxes, which can be purchased in many games, award players random virtual prizes that can improve playing experience.
The chance element has raised concerns that the boxes could encourage gambling-like behaviour.
But campaigners are demanding tougher action, such as forcing betting firms to hold mandatory affordability checks on gamblers.
Last month figures showed more than a million turned to online gambling during the pandemic in 2020.
Some 12.1million adults in England gambled online in 2020, according to an annual report by the Gambling Commission regulator.
This is up 1.3million, or 8 per cent, on the 2019 figure before the Covid pandemic.
Campaigners are demanding tougher action, such as forcing betting firms to hold mandatory affordability checks on gamblers (stock image)
Critics say the increase has led to a huge rise in profits for operators providing online betting sites.
Alongside the isolation of lockdowns, the rise of smartphones has also made gambling easier.
The regulator said 50 per cent of online gamblers used their phone to bet last year, up from 29 per cent in 2016.
The Mail has long called for action to curb the scourge of gambling addiction.
Last year a Lords study found the problem is blighting the lives of two million a year, and more than 50,000 children are addicts.
It revealed the scourge was leading to one suicide a day.
Peers said they had heard ‘appalling’ stories of vulnerable people being targeted, with customers feeling ‘groomed’.