CRIES for help to Gamblers Anonymous in the Northwest have risen by 61 per cent since the National Lottery started in November 1994, according to a study at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Ken Parsons, from the university's sociology department, told delegates at the BSA conference that the introduction of the lottery had created a "gambling free-for-all and a breeding ground for social ills" in Britain.
Data from a series of questionnaires to people who had used the gamblers' counselling service highlighted a trend towards compulsive lottery gambling.
Dr Parsons mapped behaviour traits ranging from "too much preoccupation with gambling" to "withdrawal symptoms" to "illegal acts". "As Britain liberalises its gambling laws we will need to become more informed about the institutionalisation of pathological gambling and its social, cultural, medical and psychological consequences," he said. "In the present climate these trends are set to continue because access to the lottery is easy, its influence is so overt and it is sanctioned by policy-makers."