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Many More Problem Gamblers Spotted

21 September 2004

NEW ZEALAND -- As reported by the New Zealand Press Agency: "Researchers into gambling say their findings suggest previous surveys greatly underestimated the number of people with problems.

"Professor Max Abbott and colleagues at Auckland University of Technology's (AUT) Gambling Research Centre tracked 77 problem and 66 regular non-problem New Zealand gamblers for seven years.

"They said yesterday that the survey indicated the number of sufferers was far greater than previously thought.

"Professor Abbott said the number of problem gamblers worldwide could be twice as many as originally believed. On the plus side, the duration of the problem was not as long as clinicians and researchers generally believed.

"...Much more needed to be done at an early stage to prevent problems escalating.

"The findings provided hope that prevention messages and other public health approaches targeting high-risk groups could be effective, said Professor Abbott.

"...Given the high overlap between gambling and alcohol problems, it would probably make sense to integrate gambling and substance misuse programmes, he said.

"...Contrary to the view that problem gamblers could not return to moderate or social gambling, most people who overcame their problems reported that they still gambled weekly or more..."

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