The Gambling Commission believes that there are up to 375,000 problem gamblers in the UK, but the organisation Gamblers Anonymous thinks this might be nearer 600,000. There appears to be a link between addiction to gambling and alcohol abuse, and rates of severe depression and attempted suicide amongst gambling addicts runs at twice the national rate.
There is now evidence that the number of women with gambling problems has doubled in recent years, and now women account for around 25% of gambling addicts, though this will be higher for on-line gambling. The increase in internet sites attracts more women than the traditional betting shops and casinos.
The adrenaline rush of anticipation and excitement of gambling creates the high that becomes addictive, though some say that it is different for women gambling addicts who use the gambling to pass time and the addiction comes from the numbness and tranquilizer effect of the gambling process.
Evidence shows that gambling addiction can be treated in the same way as other addiction with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy being said to have good results, as do services that also offer specialised addiction services for those with substance abuse.
Though gambling addiction is a real problem, in the same way that alcohol misuse only affects a relatively small proportion of these people who drink socially and in moderation, gambling addiction affects only a small proportion of those that gamble in a social way. For example it is estimated that around 70% of adults in the UK will bet or gamble at least once in a year.