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More UK Gamblers Seeking GamCare Support

9th October 2009 8:34 am GMT

GamCare, the UK's leading problem gambling support organisation, has published its latest Care Services Report for 2008 showing a 21% increase in the number of gamblers obtaining help, advice and support from the charity versus the previous year. The charity organisation was quick to point out however that the increase was more likely due to an increased awareness of its services rather than an increase in problem gambling per se.

The reports showed that calls to the HelpLine and NetLine had increased by 21% to 30,788 compared to 2007 levels, while the number of counselling sessions rose by 30% to 12,500 during the year.

Out of the total number of calls in 2008, 29,336 HelpLine calls and 4,729 NetLine calls were personally answered by advisors, with the remainder 'lost' due to factors such as the caller hanging up, failed connections, or when the service is closed.

Over 68% of the calls were from the gambler while a further 25% of calls originated from partners, family members of friends. Nearly 3% of calls related to the adverse effects of their partner's gambling and 4% were from healthcare professionals.

The main gambling activities disclosed by HelpLine and NetLine callers were FOBT's and betting, comprising 27% and 26% respectively of all activities, with fruit/slot machine playing accounting for 15% and table games a further 13%.

GamCare's trained advisers are now dealing with approximately 100 callers every day, with more than 300 people in treatment around the country, benefiting from intensive individual counselling.

Demonstrating the effectiveness of the charity's work, GamCare Chief Executive Andy McLellan said that at the beginning of counselling, 88% of clients were assessed as problem gamblers, however by the end of treatment this reduced to just 15%.

"This is really good news: more people are finding out about the help we offer, contacting us and being helped," said McLellan. "But we also know we are still only scratching the surface - the Gambling Commission's review of research, education and treatment, published a year ago, suggested that less than 1% of people who could benefit from treatment actually take it up. There's a lot more for us to do, and a lot more people out there that we need to help."

The use of GamCare's online service NetLine tripled during 2008, with online chat room sessions doubling during the year. The website had an average number of 14,500 unique active visitors each month in 2008.

GamCare also increased its coverage during the year with the addition of four new counselling partners, putting approximately 60% of the UK population within reach of specialist counselling services.

Paying tribute to GamCare staff, GamCare Chairman Anthony Jennens said: "The GamCare team goes from strength to strength in meeting the needs of problem gamblers and their families and friends. Our advisers and counsellors are professional and dedicated, and we have formed very strong bonds with our counselling Partners around the country.

"We have already begun to expand our existing services and to use our collective knowledge, experience and expertise to contribute to education and prevention as well as treatment, and in the year to come we will do much more."

The data in the report is drawn from people using HelpLine, online or counselling services, and who have chosen to disclose information to GamCare. The 2008 Care Services Report can be downloaded in full here.

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