The number of complaints made about gambling companies has dramatically risen in the last five years.
Last year, 8,266 gamblers made complaints about British betting companies, compared to just 169 in 2013, according to figures from the Gambling Commission.
The industry regulator said most complaints were about companies’ failure to operate in a ‘socially responsible’ way, or for refusing to pay out on winning bets.
The rise is thought to be partly due to the massive increase in people gambling, with Brits losing £14.5 billion last year – almost double what they were losing a decade ago.
A BBC Panorama investigation spoke to ‘Amanda’, who explained how she was encouraged to continue betting even when she was losing significant amounts of money.
She lost around £633,000 on an online betting site, using the money she gained from selling her house and her late father’s house to feed her addiction.
Amanda said the website – Jackpotjoy – would repeatedly contact her to offer free cash bonuses to encourage her to keep playing.
“They never questioned whether I could actually afford to spend £50,000 a night. All they did was sort of pat me on the back and give me another bonus, send me another gift.”
She added: “If I hadn’t gone online for a day, they were very quickly on the phone or sending me an email.”
Academics at the University of Warwick revealed last week that the gambling industry’s ‘responsible betting’ slogan “When the fun stops, stop”, had no significant effect on gamblers’ behaviour.
They also noted that the word ‘fun’ is printed in much larger font than any other word in the message.
The Christian Institute warned in 2005 that relaxing rules around betting, in particular those relating to advertising, would result in the proliferation of gambling.