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Gambling Problems

So we\’re all revved up to worry about gambling addictions again then.

The money lost by British gamblers will exceed £10bn annually next year – a rise of 50% in nine years, and the biggest jump since the 1960s.

Looks terrible, doesn\’t it? Hmmm. Inflation (RPI) was 25% or so over that period. So that\’s some of the rise explained. Average earnings rose 45% over the period (OK, I\’m using 97 to 2006, because that\’s what the calculator allows, but it\’s illustrative) so in fact we could say that the rise is purely down to the fact that people have more money and that they are spending it. Doesn\’t actually look so bad now, does it? Gambling up 50%, incomes up 45%? As GDP has risen 59% in the period then we might actually say that gambling as a percentage of GDP has fallen, although I\’m not sure I\’d actually believe that.

Estimates produced for the Guardian by a leading government adviser show £650m a year is taken from punters by the terminals – a sum almost matching the conventional casino industry\’s entire takings.

Oooh, scary.

Leighton Vaughan Williams of Nottingham Business School said British punters lose £9.5bn a year across all gambling- a 36% rise on £7bn lost in 1999, the year online gambling emerged. Excluding the lottery – the "softest" form of gambling – the annual loss from hard gambling widened by 56% in eight years to £7bn.

So the lottery has losses of £2.5 billion. That is, the lottery is 3.8 times as bad as video roulette. So when do we ban that tax on stupidity then?

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