With calls for more research into gambling problems, medics at a British Medical Association conference labelled the habit a “social poison”.
“Gambling addiction is as corrosive as drug addiction and alcoholism in terms of family break-up and financial ruin. It is a social disease,” said Dr David Sinclair in the Scotsman.
Dr Jan Wise, a consultant psychiatrist from London, added in BBC News that unless doctors “get a grip” on gambling then it will become a “real problem”.
The concern follows reports last month that a son ran up £158,000 of debt on his parents’ credit cards in just 50 minutes through internet gambling, prompting claims it was “the scourge of the 21st century”.
Doctors now add their voice to such criticism, with Dr Wise saying that medics should lobby the government to introduce better regulations, while researchers should find a way to help addicts.