GamCare Reports Alarming Increase in Online Slot-Related Gambling Issues
Startling data from GamCare reveals a concerning surge in the percentage of online casino players grappling with gambling problems tied to slot machines over the past five years. According to the UK's independent charity for gambling support, a staggering three out of five individuals (60%) who sought assistance last year identified slot games as a primary concern.
To put this in perspective, the percentage of individuals who reached out to the National Gambling Helpline in 2018-19, citing slot games as a major activity, stood at 34%.
This revelation comes at a time when there are growing calls for the implementation of maximum stake limits for online slot games. The measure, currently under discussion by the UK government, aims to shield consumers from the potential harm associated with online gaming.
Contrary to the mistaken belief held by many that traditional sports betting and horse racing are the riskiest forms of gambling, iGaming was identified as the root cause of issues for 73% of the 5,660 individuals who contacted the National Gambling Helpline last year.
Diverse Online Verticals Pose Risks
Online slot machines are not the sole source of problems for players. GamCare's findings indicate that the rising popularity of emerging verticals has led to issues for many individuals. For instance, the proportion of people experiencing challenges due to betting exchanges has surged from 0.3% to 7.6% over five years.
During the same period, the proportion of players facing difficulties with online trading and crypto markets increased from 0.02% to 2.17%.
Meanwhile, the percentage of individuals encountering problems with online sports betting decreased from 34% in 2018-19 to 20% in 2022-23. Nevertheless, the misconception that gambling harm primarily stems from sports wagering or horse racing still persists.
Colin Walsh, GamCare's lived experience manager, shared insights on these trends. He noted that in recent years, people often begin with sports gambling and then transition to other areas, such as online gaming. However, the accessibility of iGaming can cause players to lose track of time and money.
The data underscores that online slots have now become the predominant challenge for many individuals seeking help through the National Gambling Helpline.
Walsh acknowledged the difficulties associated with online gambling and the isolation felt by those caught in a negative cycle. Nevertheless, he emphasized that gambling harm is something people can overcome. Walsh encouraged players to remember that GamCare offers free assistance to anyone struggling with gambling-related issues.
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