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New chance for Yarmouth problem gamblers

PUBLISHED: 13:35 17 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:56 16 September 2010

THERE are about 5,000 people in Norfolk with a gambling problem.

And that number looks set to rise, as more young people and women are getting the gambling bug by logging on to gaming websites and new-style betting machines in bookmakers.

THERE are about 5,000 people in Norfolk with a gambling problem.

And that number looks set to rise, as more young people and women are getting the gambling bug by logging on to gaming websites and new-style betting machines in bookmakers.

In the wake of the rise of problem gamblers, a new counselling scheme has been set up in Great Yarmouth.

Norwich-based drug, alcohol and gambling charity Norcas is offering a series of 24 counselling sessions in Yarmouth from its branch in North Quay.

It is thought that there could be up to 400 people with gambling problems in the resort and the surrounding area.

The creation of the Yarmouth counselling service comes as the numbers of young people aged between 18 and 25 with a possible gambling problem have risen by a fifth in the last year.

And the number of women who are concerned they are becoming addicted to internet gambling has shot up by 14pc.

Norcas says two of the main reasons for the rises are online gambling games and fixed odds betting terminals in bookmakers.

Fruit machines make up about 20pc of all gambling related problems.

As the gamblers use their addictive behaviour as a from of escapism they are building up debts which, in some cases, can lead to them carrying out frauds and crimes to get enough money to keep on betting.

The formation of the Yarmouth counselling scheme, which is run in conjunction with Gamcare, follows similar schemes in Norwich, Lowestoft and Cromer.

Countywide there are about 5,000 people with a gambling problem. Norcas says it knows of one punter who gambled away £300,000.

Maggie Williams, Norcas chief executive, said: “Most people gamble as a form of escapism. They can spend hours gambling in their own world.

“There is a problem with online gambling. It is very accessible and you can gamble at work or at home very easily.

“Gambling can have a huge impact on people's lives - it is like a mini-explosion.

“It can lead to family breakdowns and people getting heavily into debt.

“People need to find funds to keep gambling - some can get involved in fraud and crime. It does have an effect on the community.”

Ron Turrell, a counsellor for Norcas, said: “We are very pleased to be able to extend our gambling services to the Yarmouth area.

“We know they will provide much needed support to those who are experiencing problems coping with gambling issues.”

In another sign of the rising gambling problem in Yarmouth, last November youngsters aged under 18 could sign up to a Count Me Out gambling self exclusive scheme to stop them visiting arcades. The Count Me Out project had been set up for adults in 2007 by PC Gary Pettengell.

For information on Norcas visit www.norcas.org.uk or call 01603 767093.

The Norcas Yarmouth team at 59 North Quay can be contacted on 01493 857249 or by email at gtyarmouth@norcas.org.uk


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