The success of online and mobile gambling has caused a rise in the number of people with gambling addictions and debts, according to a report released today.
"The unregulated online and mobile phone gaming services pose the greatest threat," said Anthony Jennens, chairman of gambling addiction charity Gamcare. "This is the growth market where vulnerable people are falling into difficulties."
Gamcare claimed that there are now up to 350,000 people in Britain with a gambling addiction.
The charity added that six years ago only two per cent of those seeking help were women, compared with nine per cent of those seeking counselling today and 18 per cent of calls received to the Gamcare helpline on 0845 6000 133.
The number of women with gambling problems was attributed to the rapid rise of online gambling sites, as women would not previously have visited traditional betting shops.
Gamcare also said that its help forum has grown from fewer than 10,000 users nine months ago to more than 90,000 today.
"One option is unsustainable and that is doing nothing and expecting people to be protected in a modern environment with the internet and new forms of gambling which were never heard of when the legislation was introduced in 1968, " she said.
Jowell agreed that the uptake of online gambling brought particular risks. " As things stand it is an explosion over which we have very little control and that is why online gambling will be regulated under the new gambling act," she said.
The minister added that the government hoped to persuade offshore operators to move their businesses to the UK and become properly recognised.
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