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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 11:10 GMT
Gambling charity in funding plea
Cards and chips
Online poker has brought more people to the game
A gambling charity is seeking funding to extend its services in Scotland after figures revealed a sharp increase in people seeking help.

Scotland has one of the highest rates of problem gambling in the UK, but few specialist services to help addicts.

There have been fears that easy access to online gambling sites may be making the problem even worse.

RCA Trust said it has struggled to cope with the workload after launching a service for problem gamblers.

The charity said it had already helped more than 100 people before properly advertising the service.

It has been seeking funding to develop its services and hopes to recruit three regional development officers.

Gambling difficulties

More than 125,000 people in the UK have a gambling problem, according to estimates.

Yet there has been little help available for gamblers in comparison to drug and alcohol addicts.

Ian is a problem gambler who was sucked into addiction by the internet.

"The ease with which you can lose money, definitely it can spiral," he said.

It's on our TV screens constantly, in our shops and celebrities are promoting this to a great extent
Duncan McNeil MSP

"On one of the betting sites that I'm familiar with you can register three different cards at one time so you can max out one credit card and just skip right onto your next account.

"In any one day, if you have a credit limit of 30,000 you could blow that 30 grand."

Charities have called on the industry to be more pro-active, monitoring playing activities and sharing information about those getting into difficulties.

Duncan McNeil, the Labour MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, said easy access to gambling via television, phone and the internet had increased the risk of addiction.

He said: "We see it all around us - they hook and bait to draw them into gambling. It's on our TV screens constantly, in our shops and celebrities are promoting this to a great extent and it's seen to be cool.

"For the 75% of us who gamble every year it's not a problem, but for some it's a debilitating addiction that affects them, their families and society in general."

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