The number of people in Britain with a serious gambling problem rose from 280,000 to 430,000 between 2012 and 2015.
The figures, which have taken nearly two years to collate, are revealed in a new report by the Gambling Commission, showing millions more are at risk of becoming gambling addicts.
The alarming figures have led campaigners to hit out at the self-regulated gambling industry and call on the Government to clamp down on high-stakes betting.
A spokesman for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said the scale of the problem should alarm policymakers, adding: “The bookies used to claim one problem gambler was one too many; we now have 430,000 and millions at risk.”
Around a third of the 1.45 million gamblers who use Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) were also found to be at risk of becoming addicts.
The controversial FOBTs allow gamblers to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds and have been called the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling.
Carolyn Harris MP, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on FOBTs, said the report should be a “wake-up call” for the Government.
She said: “43 per cent of FOBT users are either problem or at-risk gamblers. The Government must recommend a cut to £2 a spin.”
She also slammed the lack of intervention by the gambling industry, saying: “The problem is not going away, in fact it’s getting worse. If the industry believes there’s no issue, they’re completely deluded.”
The report comes amid a Government review of FOBTs and gambling adverts on television.
It has been reported that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is keen to lower the maximum stakes of the highly-addictive betting machines, but the treasury is concerned it will reduce tax revenues.
The review’s findings are expected to be published in October.