Gambling addiction

There may be as many as 593,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain. The anticipation and thrill of gambling creates a natural high that can become addictive.

The internet has made gambling more accessible, allowing more and more people to do it from home. This is thought to be one of the reasons for the increase in the number of women gamblers.

Problem gamblers are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, stress, anxiety and depression.

Gambling addicts are also more likely to go to prison as a result of criminal activity. This is almost entirely theft and fraud. And there's also a link between gambling and alcohol abuse. Many gambling addicts are also addicted to alcohol. 

But there's evidence that gambling can be successfully treated in the same way as other addictions. Cognitive behavioural therapy usually has the best results.

Specialised addiction services that mainly focus on substance misuse often treat gambling problems, too. They use the same techniques to treat gambling addictions that they use to treat substance misuse.

Get help if you think you're addicted to gambling

National Problem Gambling Clinic

If you live in England or Wales and are over 16, you can refer yourself to the only specialist NHS clinic for problem gamblers. For more information, visit the clinic's website. 


The main support organisation in the UK is GamCare, which runs the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) and provides face-to-face counselling.

Gamblers Anonymous

Gamblers Anonymous uses the same 12-step approach as Alcoholics Anonymous and also has a support group for relatives called Gam-Anon.

If you know someone with a gambling problem

GamCare: supporting a problem gambler

Read stories from people who support a friend or relative with a gambling problem, and share your own experiences.


Get help and support if you're affected by someone else's gambling problem, including how to recognise the signs and where to find your nearest meeting.

Real stories of gambling addiction

GamCare: recovery diaries

Read the stories of people with gambling addictions. You can post messages of support and tell your own story in the GamCare forum.

Page last reviewed: 23/04/2015

Next review due: 23/04/2017


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The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

KL1979 said on 01 August 2015

There appears to be more support for gamblers and their families in England. Why is there less support in Scotland?

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Micmce said on 20 March 2014

Cannot agree more with the previous comment. As a family member of someone who has fallen into the gambling trap when at a low ebb, I cannot believe how prolific are the adverts for online gambling, even offering you money to get you started. Even on TV, vulnerable people who are at home during the day are bombarded with adverts for gambling and money lending, making it all seem so normal and fun. Even televised football matches encourage you to place a bet. We are going to find ourselves with an epidemic of problem gamblers in a few years time, with people racking up enormous debts that are going to ruin their lives, and also the lives of family members. Past and present governments have endorsed and encouraged this - shame on them!

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asperou said on 27 October 2013

I am of the opinion that the current Government in the United Kingdom is making it easier for there to be lots more gambling addicts in the future. They don't seem to be doing anything to help the problems.

I think the money raised it taxes is more of an interest to them than doing anything to help people with gambling addiction. The United Kingdom is one of a very few countries in the world that allows people under the age of 18 years old to gamble which is just wrong.

Online gambling is one of the quickest growing business in the world and has grown 4 fold in the last 2 years so that is going to make the problem of gambling addicts in the future even worse meaning more money for our tax loving Government.

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