Stressing that the content is a snapshot of Gamcare clients using its services, the problem gambling agency has released its 2006 Care Services Report. Their findings are relatively shocking however; they are not sure to what extent the report actually means.
The report reveals that an increasing number of people contacted GamCare, but emphasizes that there is no evidence to suggest that the increase in client numbers represents an increase in problem gambling per say. "It may equally be that an increasing number of people have become aware of the services provided by GamCare. While the number of people making use of GamCare's care services has increased the diversity of our clients in terms of age group, gender and ethnicity has also broadened," the report clarifies. They are not sure if the customers that are calling are truly having problems are if they are calling just to make a point to find out about other services that they have to offer.
A total of over thirty thousand inbound calls were made to the Gamcare Help Line in 2006, a 33.9 percent increase on the previous year. With over two thousand registered members engaged in peer to peer support, the message forum saw a 300 percent increase in use. Since its launch, the chat room has delivered over 350 hours of live community chat sessions, moderated by experienced GamCare staff. Sometimes the customers would rather chat about the services than to actually be on the phone conversating about the services.
Gamblers aged between 26 and 35 constituted the largest single group of callers (37.4 percent) to the Help Line. The number of women gamblers increased very slightly to 13.2 percent (2005: 13 percent).
Betting continued to be the dominant gambling activity, accounting for 30.7 percent of callers. Fruit machine playing declined for a third year running (at 22.2 percent) and there was a small increase in Fixed Odds Betting Terminal problem gamblers 'FOBTs' (at 22 percent).Fruit machines remained the most attractive form of gambling for women with FOBTs second.
The betting shop remained the most popular gambling location reported by callers, irrespective of age group. The next most popular location for gambling was the Internet.
The average debt specified by callers was GBP 13 867.
During the course of 2006, the Counseling Service engaged with 428 clients and undertook 2 334 individual and group sessions. Women gamblers attending counseling remained under-represented at only 9.3 percent. However, a program of group sessions for women is now operative.
Reflecting the highly diverse ethnic mix of London, one third of counseling clients came from Black and Minority Ethnic groups.
Betting and FOBTs remained the predominant modes for counseling clients, accounting for over two thirds of clients' problematic gambling. There was a slight reduction in clients reporting problems from remote [Internet and interactive TV] gambling at 11 percent of counseling clients.
In terms of counseling outcomes, at assessment 44.4 percent of clients were regularly gambling at a severe level and 33.3 percent were gambling periodically. By closure, 72.7 percent of clients had ceased gambling.
At assessment, only 12.7 percent of clients reported having no psychological problems. By closure, 54.5 percent of clients reported good psychological health.
The GamCare Partnership program, which seeks to expand the availability of professional and sustainable problem gambling counseling across the UK, reported substantially increased service delivery, with a 42.8 percent increase in session provision over 2005. A total of 919 clients were seen and 4 704 counseling sessions provided.