Problem gambling decreases in South Africa

A study conducted by the National Centre for the Study of Gambling shows that the number of problem gamblers in South Africa has dropped 2% in the past two years.

The study was conducted on behalf of the National Responsible Gambling Programme with data coming from a survey of 3,003 adults in the main urban areas with easy access to commercial gambling.

The study revealed that 144 of the 3,003 respondents answered seven or more of the 20 Gamblers' Anonymous questions affirmatively, indicating they would be considered problem gamblers. That's 4.8%, down from 6.8% in 2003. The survey also revealed a little less than 1% of those surveyed would be considered pathological or compulsive gamblers.

In terms of participation in gambling, the research shows a general increase in overall gambling such as lottery, sports betting and casinos. However, use of slot machines, newspaper jackpots and scratch cards declined since 2003.

Professor Peter Collins, executive director of the National Responsible Gambling Programme, said that the increase in actual gambling but decrease in problem gambling confirms the results of recent research in the United States and New Zealand, which compared problem gambling rates before and after the introduction of casinos.

According to that research, the introduction of new forms of gambling didn't necessarily mean an increase in problem gamblers as long as the introduction was accompanied by added services and education for problem gamblers. South Africa has an extensive program for raising public awareness of the risks that come with gambling.

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