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Don't Gamble With People's Health, Warn Experts

poorer, especially if they do not derive benefits in kind, will damage their health, further increasing inequality in health.

The UK government intends to bring forward new proposals for developing casinos next year. A prospective programme of properly funded assessment of health effects must be part of any new proposals, they conclude.

Following three decades during which British gambling policy was shaped by the notion of 'unstimulated demand,' the National Lottery was introduced in 1994 with a weekly draw for a large prize jackpot.

This was followed in 1995 by the introduction of instant scratch tickets, in 1997 by a second weekly draw, and in 1999 by another weekly game that offers players more chances to win smaller prizes.

Now that growth in revenues has stabilized, the next National Lottery license is likely to include a daily lottery game as well as internet based services and interactive games. Furthermore, the introduction of the National Lottery led to strong pressures for deregulation from British casinos, betting shops, football pools, arcades, and charitable gambling industries.

This virtual explosion does not bode well for the community, doctors warn. Another concern is the growing participation of women in gambling activities. Recent studies in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States show that women are just as likely as men to play lottery games and to gamble at casinos, and it is likely that the introduction of a lottery sanctioned by the state has led more women in the United Kingdom to gamble.

As the British Gambling Review Board considers the future of gambling in the United Kingdom, those of us who are concerned about the adverse effects of gambling would suggest that steps be taken to monitor the impacts of gambling over time.

Adequate funding of prevention and treatment programmes to minimise the harm that growing numbers of people may experience wh
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