Gambling Addiction Costing UK More than £100 million Annually

Gambling addiction is becoming more and more common here in the UK, which is something that is causing widespread concern among experts. Gambling is so widely advertised that now, shockingly, half-a-million children gamble every week in this country; it is being blamed on the television advertisements that promote gambling and are regularly shown during daytime. As well as these concerns, there is also the fact that gambling addiction is costing the UK more than £100 million every year in mental health and counselling services. It is something that the government is keen to reduce in any way possible.

‘Secondary’ Mental Health Services Linked with Gambling

According to a recent report by the charity GambleAware, gambling addiction is costing the UK more than £100 million every year in counselling and mental health services. The IPPR, an independent think-tank, told delegates at the most recent GambleAware meeting that “secondary” mental health services that are linked to gambling cost anything between £30 million to £110 million per year. This includes programmes such as addiction treatment along with counselling for up to 620,000 gambling addicts; however, it doesn’t include other costs such as hospital admissions.

One Small Aspect

The estimated annual bill for gambling addiction would actually be much higher when other costs such as welfare and housing, homelessness, and the criminal justice system are added into the mix. The report said, among other things “The impact on mental health and counselling services is just one small aspect of the overall cost of gambling addiction to the economy. If this report’s estimates are correct, then £110 million is just the tip of the iceberg. The impact on GP surgeries, the NHS, employers and families are just a few, but if we look at FOBTs and betting shops in particular “ they are impacting local police services and high street economies besides the wider affliction of pathological gambling. One aspect this report may not look at is what the campaign refers to as “binge gambling”, where betting shop customers in particular binge over short periods on FOBT use with a dramatic impact on their personal finances.”

‘Crack Cocaine’ of Betting

FOBTs are often referred to as the “crack cocaine” of betting as they allow gamblers to bet away anything up to £100 every twenty seconds. These machines have even drawn negative attention from the former boss of popular bookmakers Paddy Power. However, they provided £438 million to the Treasury last year in taxes alone. Nevertheless, the IPPR’s estimate of the total costs of gambling addiction is the most detailed of its kind in recent years.


Bookmakers and online betting companies have dealt with a lot of controversy of late after concerns about children and vulnerable people had been highlighted in the wake of many adverts that promote gambling. Research conducted by the Gambling Commission, the industry regulator, showed that nearly half-a-million children gamble every week. Because of this, politicians are keen to massively reduce the number of adverts that promote gambling that can be shown before the watershed. In 2016, the betting industry had already spent an enormous £162 million on television adverts by September 2016; this is concerning as in 2012, the amount spend on TV advertisement was almost half of this figure.

Assistance with Addiction

Bearing all the above in mind, if you suspect that a loved one is suffering from a gambling addiction and are unsure of what steps to take next, then contact us here at BlueSkies Recovery. We specialise in assisting those battling all types of addictions, especially gambling addiction, and we utilise many treatments that can be tailored to the specific requirements of the individual. If you require any further information, contact us today for more details.


  1. Gambling addiction costs UK more than £100m a year – study (The Guardian)
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