BBC's show 'Panorama' reveals the problem of online gambling in the UK

MUMBAI: UK pubcaster the BBC says that its show Panorama has uncovered figures which show that an average of 5.8 million people a month visited online gambling sites from April to September 2006. The show airs this weekend in the UK.

The statistics from the internet media and market research company Nielsen/Net Ratings show that in May there were more than six million visitors to online gambling sites.

Independent research commissioned by the Government claims that there are only 1 million regular UK online gamblers. Professor Jim Orford, an addiction expert, tells Panorama the Government is being 'naive' and 'playing dice' with people's health over its plans to liberalise gambling laws.

He has predicted that up to one million people a year could become hooked on internet gambling because of the Gambling Act 2005. The Act becomes law in September 2007.

Professor Orford, who works at Birmingham University, told Panorama, "Gradually we're going to realise it's a much bigger problem than we thought. More people are going to know friends and family members who've got problems. Health authorities are going to be under pressure to provide treatment.

"We could be talking about a million people affected by it in any one period of 12 months, and that begins to put it on a par with drug addiction problems."

UK Minister for Sport Richard Caborn said, "We have, I believe, acted responsibly in bringing an Act onto the statute book, which has three basic principles on which it is based; protecting the vulnerable, keeping it crime free and making sure that those who have a bet will be paid out and it?ll be a fair bet. That is what it is predicated on because we believe that gambling is now part of our leisure industry."

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