A leading psychologist at the University of Birmingham has warned that the next few years may see a significant increase in gambling problems.

Professor Jim Orford from the University’s School of Psychology has said that the increasing ease with which people can access internet gaming sites will lead to new sections of society being exposed to the risk of addiction. 

The issues surrounding gambling rose to prominence last year with the announcement of a supercasino in the UK.  Professor Orford’s warning comes after recent figures released by the Gambling Commission suggest that the number of people going online to place a bet in the UK is on the rise and that the profile of gamblers is changing and will include women and younger people. 

Professor Jim Orford says, ‘As a psychologist what I’m concerned about is the addictiveness or potential addictiveness of gambling.  From a public health point of view it is what some people call one of the ‘dangerous consumptions’.  It is something that can develop into something very strong – a serious habit which is difficult to break - in other words an addiction.  From our research we think the internet might be one of the more addictive forms of gambling.’

Dr Russell Beale from the University of Birmingham’s School of Computer Science is an expert in human computer interaction and the social affects of technologies.  He says the increase is partly due to the broadening of ways in which people can now access online gambling sites.  He says, ‘People from many countries are now gambling online, and in the UK online gambling has taken off recently as many more people have become aware of it.  The increase of broadband in homes has given people access to the internet as a source of entertainment and it has become more socially acceptable to gamble.  Online gambling was originally focussed on the keen players, but now the focus has widened so anyone from young rich professionals through to people in lower social demographic groups are now playing online. 

He continues, ‘The online gambling companies understand better how to make their sites more user-friendly and are putting more money into the technology.  These companies are making millions of dollars per day from these websites, but they understand that they have a social responsibility to their players and take this very seriously.’


Notes to Editors

1. Research TV - Note to Broadcast Media: Moving footage/interviews are available free of charge as a package to broadcast media via Research TV, due for streaming via APTN on Tuesday 28 August 2007 from 12.15-12.30 GMT.  Contact http://www.Research-TV.com for details / to request footage.

2. Professor Jim Orford is an expert in addiction including gambling from the University of Birmingham’s School of Psychology.  He has carried out research into the problems of addiction and its consequences and how it affects the families of those with the addiction

3.  Dr Russell Beale is an expert in human-computer interaction and the effects of technology on society. He has carried out research into how to make software and internet sites more usable.

For further information

Kate Chapple, Press Officer, University of Birmingham, tel 0121 414 2772 or 07789 921164.