Gamblers dating

The tax-free prize money is paid out at a notional rate of 1.5 per cent.It might not sound much but you keep your capital investment, and that does not happen with most gambling activities including the National Lottery. I lost the pub."He handed over one of the houses to his wife and sold the other one.

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"The advertisers present this as 'your friend in the home', on the end of a computer."Debt advice agencies tend not to have statistics on gambling debts (as their clients generally do not specify how they have spent their money) but Ms Kirkpatrick has her suspicions: "A lot of the debts we are now seeing may be because of gambling."Problem gambling often starts in ways that seem harmless."Maybe your granny takes you to bingo or someone is into betting and teaches you to bet," said Ms Wardle.

The National Lottery, launched 18 years ago, tends to be presented as a good cause or as "having a flutter".

This is despite the fact that the odds against coming out ahead would deter anyone who understands probability theory.

Ms Wardle says problem gambling is less linked to the National Lottery than to other activities.

Statistics just published by the Gambling Commission show a rise in activity in lotteries, the number of gambling machines and in online gaming, particularly betting, casinos and bingo.

Nearly three-quarters of Britons (73 per cent) indulge in some kind of gambling, although for most that means a flutter on the National Lottery.

Its aim, says Camelot, the company which runs the lottery, is to encourage "many people to play but to each spend relatively small amounts".

It does not attribute its growth to negative factors – such as people turning to more desperate ways of making money during a recession – but rather it lists a host of marketing and administrative factors for its success.

Class-A drug-takers (about three per cent of the population) and alcoholics (somewhat more than three per cent, depending on the definition) are researched and monitored far more closely and offered more accessible help.

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