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Gambling on increase after easing of laws

Almost half a million adults in Britain have a serious problem with gambling and the rate is increasing, new research has revealed.

The report by the Gambling Commission found that 0.9 per cent of the population – or 451,000 people – are suffering with a problem, an increase of 50 per cent from 2007.

At a time when the Commission's research budget has been slashed, its British Gambling Prevalence survey showed that gambling was increasing in the UK with almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of adults indulging in the past-time.

Yesterday the Gambling Commission said this might be its last prevalence study after the Department for Culture Media and Sport cut its £500,000 research budget last year. It said it was seeking other funding.

The survey covering 7,756 adults over 16, revealed that 59 per cent of adults bought National Lottery tickets in 2010, making it the most popular gambling activity – a slight increase from the 57 per cent recorded in 2007.

Other forms of gambling, such as betting on horse races, scratchcards, playing slot machines and private betting, were all popular while football pools were the only activity to dip significantly, down to 4 per cent from 9 per cent in 1999.

Overall, 14 per cent of adults used the internet to gamble in the past year while 81 per cent said they only gambled "in person".