BBC looks at growing U.K. online gambling industry

A BBC investigative journalism program will air a documentary about the growing popularity of online gambling - and its potential consequences - in the U.K. this Sunday.

The weekly television series Panorama will show "Online Gambling: Britain's New Obsession" this weekend on the BBC One network.

According to statistics compiled by market research company Nielson/Net Ratings for the program, as many as 5.8 million U.K. residents visited online gambling Web sites between April and September.

The report also suggested that one in 10 Brits - both adults and teens - gamble online each month. The numbers found in the study are much higher than those found earlier this month by the British government, which indicated that 1 million people regularly used gaming sites.

For the program, a Panorama reporter gave $2,000 of his own money to a professional Internet gambler to see if he could double up by playing in an online poker room. Though the program will show how much money a professional gambler can earn, it will also tell the story of Sharna Baker, the 24-year-old who stole nearly ₤500,000 from her employer to fund her sports betting habit.

The documentary will also include appearances by an addictions expert, who speculates that one million people a year could become addicted to online gambling, and will include interviews with a representative from Britain's newly formed gaming commission.

"Online Gambling: Britain's New Obsession" will also be broadcast online on Sunday at www.bbc.co.uk/panorama.

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