Letter: Lottery victims

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article "National Lottery fever needs to be calmed" (3 June) is to be welcomed. Gambling, by its very nature, encourages those who take part to exaggerate the likelihood of winning at the expense of the probability of losing. The promoters encourage such notions and the media collude by publicising the few winners. The result is the chasing of losses by punters.

It is for these reasons that the public policy of providing gambling on the basis of unstimulated demand was so effective. When it was still being implemented, there were more gambling facilities in Britain than any other European country and they were more diverse. Yet the casualties were relatively few.

The irresponsible approach of the last government, which treated gambling as just another marketable commodity, undermined this policy. In the present climate of stimulation, the idea that education will prevent excessive gambling is unrealistic. Indeed, such notions now largely stem from the promoters, in a cynical attempt to present a semblance of social responsibility.


Consultant Psychiatrist

Chairman, the National Council on Gambling

London N14