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The BBC's Darren Jordon
"Men are more likely than woman to take a flutter"
 real 28k

Thursday, 8 June, 2000, 03:26 GMT 04:26 UK
Lottery fever lures gamblers
Lottery machine
Half of Britain's adults try their luck on the lottery each week
The National Lottery has turned almost three quarters of British adults into hopeful gamblers, despite most admitting they hardly ever win a penny.

For the majority of over 16s gambling is confined to a weekly flutter on the National Lottery and the occasional scratch card, reveals the biggest report on UK gambling.

Half the adult population now plays the big number draw every week, while scratch cards tempted a further 22% during the last 12 months, said Bob Erens, author of the report for charity Gamcare.

But the number of people with a serious gambling problems remains low, Gamcare says, with about 300,000 people out of nearly 33 million punters who indulge each year.

The research found that men were twice as likely to be serious gamblers as women.

They were also more susceptible if under the age of 45, had low incomes or came from families with a history of gambling problems.

GamCare chairman Dr Mark Griffiths, head of psychology at Nottingham Trent University, said the figures were "generally good news".

"There has not been a representative study of this kind before, but the best guestimates suggested around 1% of adults had a problem and it appears to be slightly lower than that," he said.

Gambling nation

The study from the National Centre for Social Research, which interviewed 8,000 people nationwide, revealed that many forms of gambling were alive and well.

Around 14% surveyed had played a fruit machine in the last year, 13% had bet on the horses and 11% had placed a wager with a friend or colleague.


The bookies: Still a haunt of horse and greyhound racing enthusiasts
Football pools were played by 9% of the population, 7% had their eyes down at the bingo while just 3% took their chances at a casino.

But the National Lottery was still the big winner, with 72% of adults participating either on a regular or occasional basis.

This compared to one in five women and 40% of men who were thought to bet regularly before the lottery was introduced.

Foreign flutters

British punters, however, still have some way to go before they catch up with their counterparts in similar countries.

Eight out of 10 Australians bet each year, while 90% of those in Sweden and New Zealand will have gambled in the last 12 months.

Figures are more conservative in the US, where just 63% of adults bet each year.

The gambling study also found that while the high street bookies was still a popular haunt for horse-racing and greyhound betters, only 3% of punters visited them to bet on anything else.

And it seems that the newer forms of gambling, such as Internet or spread betting still have some ground to make up, with less than one in 100 gamblers trying them out.

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See also:

06 May 00 | Americas
Jumbo jackpot swells lottery fever
06 Apr 00 | Business
Odds favour offshore betting
21 Mar 00 | Budget2000
Review into betting duty
05 Apr 00 | UK
Why 1m is not enough
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