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Ipswich: Help is at hand for gambling addicts, says expert

PUBLISHED: 15:53 12 February 2013 | UPDATED: 15:53 12 February 2013

Mari Green a Gamcare Counsellor at Ipswich based charity, Norcas.

Mari Green a Gamcare Counsellor at Ipswich based charity, Norcas.

EXPERTS today said there is help at hand for those battling a gambling addiction.

Mari Green, the Gamcare counsellor at Norcas, based in Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, said a number of her clients struggle with an addiction to the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

FOBT machines are found in most high street bookmakers and allow bets of up to £100 every 20 seconds.

They include games such as roulette, bingo and simulated horse racing. The Gambling Act 2005 restricts each shop to having a maximum of four terminals.

“These machines have a very high capacity to become compulsive,” Mrs Green told The Star.

“Because people win very quickly they are more likely to put their winnings straight back into the machine.

“People lose touch with reality, they don’t realise how much they are spending.

“The speed is the problem. I don’t know if it is realistic to think we can remove these machines but there is a school of thought that of they were slower they would become less compulsive.

“People don’t realise how much they are spending until it is gone.”

She said of her client case load, which fluctuates between 35 and 40 people in Ipswich and Lowestoft, most have a problem with these machines.

The next most prevalent problem relates to fruit machines and then the internet.

Mrs Green said she has seen an increase in people seeking help for gambling addictions in the last two years, since she specialised in gambling addiction.

“There is an underlying problem with anyone who suffers addiction,” she added. “The act of gambling is a means of escape.

“The sad thing is problem gambling will take all of your money, whether you are unemployed and it takes all your dole money or you are a millionaire.”

- To speak to Mrs Green and seek help call Norcas on 01473 259382.

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