he number of complaints against British gambling firms has skyrocketed to 8,266 last year, a rise of almost 5,000% as compared to the 169 registered in 2013.
According to UK Gambling Commission data obtained by BBC Panorama, most of them were about firms refusing to pay out on winning bets or failing to take adequate social responsibility measures.
The rise follows a sharp increase in UK gambling over the past decade. The industry has expanded rapidly since the government relaxed restrictions on betting and advertising in 2007.
UKGC Chief Executive Neil McArthur said there were complex reasons for the rise in complaints: "We are pushing the industry to know its customers, and part of this is actually, possibly, a good sign because it's suggesting that consumers are demanding more of the gambling operators. And I would encourage them to continue to do that."
The UK’s top five gambling firms have already promised £60m a year to help problem gamblers and say they are working on a plan to reduce gambling-related harm.
bet365, Flutter Entertainment (owner of Paddy Power and Betfair), GVC (owner of Ladbrokes Coral), Sky Betting and Gaming, and William Hill have also established an independent committee that will recommend how best to administer funds committed to safer gambling initiatives, including the treatment of problem gambling.
Gamblers are now losing almost twice as much to the betting companies as they were a decade ago. Last year, punters lost a record £14.5bn.
The biggest rise has been in online gambling, where new games and products have attracted new customers.
High stakes betting machines have been banned from the High Street, but there are no legal limits for online games. That means customers can lose thousands of pounds in just a few minutes.
Campaigners say that the government needs to do more to protect the most vulnerable gamblers.
The Gambling Commission said it had no plans to introduce maximum stakes online because operators already have enough information to keep players safe and to ensure they are playing with money they can afford to lose.