Belfast Telegraph

'75% of adults gambled last year'

Three out of four adults in Northern Ireland gambled in the last year.

The most popular form was the National Lottery, with half of eligible punters buying at least one ticket in past 12 months.

More than 2% of the population aged 16 or over were considered to have a gambling problem, according to research by the Department of Social Development.

Direct comparisons with the situation in Great Britain will be possible when further statistics are published early next year, but the last British survey in 2007 estimated the scale of problem gambling in the rest of the UK at only 0.6%.

Gamblers Anonymous expressed concern at the prevalence of gambling in Northern Ireland.

A counsellor, who wanted to be named only as Jim, blamed an increase in advertising.

He said: "I think there are far more gamblers in Northern Ireland now than ever.

"Everywhere you look, TV, radio, the internet you see adverts for gambling. The worrying thing is you are seeing a lot of younger people getting caught up in compulsive gambling, which leads to a lot of problems, not only for them but also their families."

Social Development minister Alex Attwood said the results of the study highlighted the need for tighter controls on gambling.

The minister added: "While my Department is not responsible for the treatment or care of those who may suffer from problem gambling I will be bringing forward in the consultation measures aimed at minimising the harmful effects of gambling. I will work closely with all interests to develop a balanced package of reforms for the industry."

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From Belfast Telegraph