The Guardian has attacked the bingo and gaming industry claiming Britain has a binge-gambling problem. Now as I am a bingo lover and not, it’s true, a big Guardian reader finding the article entitled ‘Britain’s binge-gambling problem’ written by Seth Freedman intrigued me. Curiosity got the better and so I had to read it and I have to say it made my blood boil and confirmed why I choose to play bingo in all its forms and not to read this particular news publication. I am always loathe to copy and paste huge sections of an article but feel deeply that Mr Freedman is attacking the bingo and gaming industry and so therefore publish a large section of his diatribe below.
“Women in particular have become a prime target of gaming companies in recent years. Thanks to their relatively late entry into the betting arena compared with their male counterparts, the female market is considered a major area of growth for gambling operators. According to compulsive gambler-turned-author Marilyn Lancelot, “Ten years ago there were a handful of women gambling … That has changed with more women earning an income, raising families without a spouse, freedom to enter gambling establishments without an escort, and thus creating more female gamblers”.
The specific targeting of women is just one example of the net being cast ever wider by gambling operators desperate to increase revenues and profits. Thanks to the proliferation of online betting companies, margins are becoming tighter and competition for new business progressively more fierce. As a result, operators are taking extreme measures to attract customers, hurling bonuses and free bets around with abandon, safe in the knowledge that the house will always win in the end.”
In Mr Freedman’s quite vitriolic attack on the gambling industry he also states that ‘compulsive betting will become an even greater menace than it is at present, presenting Britain with a binge-gambling problem to rival its binge-drinking culture.’ To liken problem gamblers to those with drink dependency is ludicrous. Freedman states that there are ‘600,000 Britons now reckoned to have a gambling problem’, we can’t confirm or deny that these figures are true but even so if this is compared to the numbers quoted in Wikipedia for those with serious alcohol problems which at ‘over 2.8 million in 2001’, then it is clear that Mr Freedman’s theory does not hold water. True enough that any rise in problem gambling should be treated with concern, but is it not just as likely that the increase in numbers is because of how well the bingo and gaming industry is doing at pointing sufferers in the right direction for help? Every legitimate online bingo and gaming site (ours included) carries a directory for those concerned about problem gambling.
Mr Freedman has a bit of ‘mailitus’ it would seem and might possibly have us all believe that we are going to see groups of gamblers complete with hoodie, ASBO and pit bull dog brawling in the street, staggering about totally out of control and mugging strangers in the street all to enjoy their binge-gambling habit! Come on Mr Freedman do your homework the high street bingo industry is sliding down a slippery slope because of the smoking ban and hikes in taxes forcing bingo halls to shut and players – including a high proportion of very respectable middle aged women – up and down the country to play their beloved bingo game online rather than on the high street. With the advent of TV advertising player numbers are increasing which would have a knock on effect with an increase in those that sadly suffer from addictive tendencies. Having a go at the bingo and gaming industry because of a small percentage of those that suffer with addiction problems is the same as having a go at Sainsburys because there is an increase in those with eating disorders!
An article today in our sister site Betting Hideout tells of how Betfair, Ladbrokes and Bet365 have joined forces with the Professional Players Federation (PPF) along with the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) to fund an education programme for all players to avoid the problems associated with gambling addiction and corruption – is this the actions of uncaring industry?