The most likely person to gamble in Great Britain is a member of the “AB social grade category” or society’s most affluent. That is according to the annual report published by the UK’s Gambling Commission.
In the last six years the “ABs,” who include professionals such as a physicians, attorneys and CEOS, had gone from about half of the gambling population to about 54 percent at the end of 2014.
Liz Kartner, author of “Women and Problem Gambling,” and an addiction therapist, attributes this trend to the ubiquity of Smartphones and other mobile platforms.
She told the Independent, “Gambling is only going to grow as a problem for the Abs. You have people who are highly stressed in very demanding jobs and who have access to a product which helps them, initially, to switch off.”
The percentage of ABs who gamble on their remote devices has increased from 11.8 percent in 2008 to 18.7 percent last year.
Existing law requires online gaming providers to identify “vulnerable groups” (such as minors, the unemployed and people with mental health issues) and suggest ways to make them less vulnerable.
Critics say that there has been too little study of who should be considered as vulnerable.
Recently updated laws in the UK encourage municipalities, which are the licensing authorities, to attach conditions to licenses rather than simply deny them. An example of such a condition would be to allow wagers only after school children are in class. However, it is seen as more challenging to set conditions that protect the unemployed or mentally ill.
Kartner says that many of her clients are “high powered women,” who are particularly vulnerable to mobile gambling when they are under pressure. They also tend to “choose forms of gambling that give them a little bit of an audience,” she said. “The high-end casinos make you feel as if you have celebrity status. They send a car for you, bring you your drinks and give you a wonderful meal. When she wins, she feels she is a winner. When she loses, it’s devastating.”
Meanwhile, demonstrating that gambling addiction isn’t confined to one socioeconomic spectrum, a new three-part documentary “Britain at the Bookies,” aired last week.
The program’s first episode focused on employees from a bookmaking firm, and other colorful characters but aroused the most annoyance from zeroing in on “Stuart,” a compulsive gambler who plays using his dole payments, i.e. unemployment payments.
This prompted comments such as “Stuart is the exact sort of punter the bookies want: Thick, shameless, on benefits, and utterly addicted to machine,” and “Oh Stuart…. blowing your dole money in the bookies. We’ve all been there pal, but you’re on camera! Clown.”
The show prompted a reviewer in the U.K. Daily News to write, “More interesting was the study in contrasts of Stuart and Sean. One was an addict who blew his dole money on the fixed-odds machines that provided 50 percent of profits for betting shops; the other so much more clued-up that his continued success saw some bookies refusing his bets. Would Stuart’s continued failures have prompted the same treatment?”