Letter: The blame for gambling fever

Sir: The fact that an increase in gambling facilities inevitably leads to an increased incidence of disorder resulting from excessive gambling ("Britain's 1.5 million problem punters", 13 September) has been known for a long time. In a number of papers in the 1970s based on clinical cases, I drew attention to this sequence of events.

The long-term results of the treatment of excessive gambling are not very encouraging. As in the case of alcohol, if one is to influence those who gamble excessively it is necessary for the whole population to shift to lower levels of participation, with a policy encouraging moderation.

In the present circumstances, where gambling is being actively encouraged, the offer of treatment can become a device whereby the authorities attempt to avoid responsibility for ensuring correct public policies. Ultimately, prevention is better than cure.



The National Council on Gambling

London N14