A survey of gambling addicts who sought help through a phone hotline has found they owed an average of $640,000 - and almost one in six had considered suicide. In one case highlighted in the study, a gambler owed $3.5 million to families, friends and loansharks. Researchers from the Hong Kong Christian Service interviewed 50 gamblers. The study found they had been betting for between 9.5 and 31 years. Ninety per cent were men and 34 per cent civil servants. Researcher Dr Alvin Kwok Ngai-kuen said about half of the subjects would gamble more than $2,000 a day. He said 70 per cent had borrowed money from their families, 60 per cent from friends, 64 per cent from loansharks and seven per cent had stolen money from family members. 'Over half of them faced psychological stress and felt their lives were in chaos. Sixteen per cent had even considered committing suicide,' he said. Dr Kwok said the gamblers' relationships with others had suffered. Eighty-four per cent said they seldom met their friends and 52 per cent said they no longer cared for their families. Simmy Chu Lai-sim, a clinical psychologist for the service, said the causes of addictive gambling were the entertainment, excitement, thrill of winning and a desire to escape reality. But she warned the implications of living in debt were serious disruptions to family life. Ms Chu said the Hong Kong Christian Service strongly opposed proposals to legalise soccer betting. 'If it is legalised, it means our society accepts gambling. More people will gamble and suffer from it,' she said. The group said it did not know the number of pathological gamblers.