Local authorities agree to fund support for problem gamblers

Tania Mason

Gamcare, the charity that supports problem gamblers, is to open a series of regional offices paid for by local authorities that have given the go-ahead for regional casinos in their areas.

Local authorities in Southend, Middlesbrough and Leicester have already agreed to fund Gamcare counsellors in their locations. Geoffrey Godbold, chief executive of Gamcare, said he was in discussions with another five councils.

He said the local authorities approached the charity when they were putting in bids for the new regional casinos allowed under the 2005 Gambling Act.

"They asked us how they should demonstrate social responsibility," he said. "We said 'by recognising that you have already got problem gamblers in your area and doing something to help them'.

"There are 350,000 problem gamblers in the country, spread across all communities, so each local authority will already have some in their area. The local authorities have taken that on board and agreed to open local offices for us - they will provide the facilities and we will provide the counsellors."

He added there was no evidence that casinos would create more problem gamblers. In some cases, the face-to-face and telephone helpline counselling services will be funded by the council; in others, the casino will pay. The first services should be operational within two months, Godbold said.

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