There may be as many as 593,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain. The anticipation and thrill of gambling create a natural high that can become addictive.
The internet has made gambling more accessible, allowing more and more people to do it from home. This is thought to be one of the reasons for the increase in the number of female gamblers.
Problem gamblers are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, stress, anxiety and depression.
Gambling addicts are also more likely to go to prison as a result of criminal activity. This is almost entirely theft and fraud. And there's also a link between gambling and alcohol abuse. Many gambling addicts are also addicted to alcohol.
But there's evidence that gambling can be successfully treated in the same way as other addictions. Cognitive behavioural therapy usually has the best results.
Specialised addiction services that mainly focus on substance misuse often treat gambling problems, too. They use the same techniques to treat gambling addictions that they use to treat substance misuse.
Get help if you think you're addicted to gambling
National Problem Gambling Clinic
If you live in England or Wales and are over 16, you can refer yourself to the only specialist NHS clinic for problem gamblers. For more information, visit the clinic's website.
The main support organisation in the UK is GamCare, which runs the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) and provides face-to-face counselling.
Gamblers Anonymous uses the same 12-step approach as Alcoholics Anonymous and also has a support group for relatives called Gam-Anon.
If you know someone with a gambling problem
GamCare: supporting a problem gambler
Read stories from people who support a friend or relative with a gambling problem, and share your own experiences.
Get help and support if you're affected by someone else's gambling problem, including how to recognise the signs and where to find your nearest meeting.
Real stories of gambling addiction
GamCare: recovery diaries
Read the stories of people with gambling addictions. You can post messages of support and tell your own story in the GamCare forum.