ITV is reporting that betting firms could be taxed to pay for addiction treatment, the head of the NHS has warned, as he launched a new service to help children with gambling problems.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, condemned the “fraction” spent by industry on helping those struggling with addiction compared to the amount spent on advertising and marketing.
He was speaking as the NHS announced a new service for 13 to 25-year-olds based at the UK’s only dedicated gambling addiction centre, the National Problem Gambling Clinic in London.
NHS England said there was growing concern that online gaming sites and targeted adverts are fuelling addiction, including among children.
Mr Stevens said: “The links between problem gambling and stress, depression and mental health problems are growing and there are too many stories of lives lost and families destroyed.
“This action shows just how seriously the NHS takes the threat of gambling addiction, even in young people, but we need to be clear – tackling mental ill health caused by addiction is everyone’s responsibility – especially those firms that directly contribute to the problem.”
The Gambling Commission estimates there are 55,000 children and young people aged 11 to 16 with a gambling problem, of which 450,000 are gambling regularly.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I have seen first-hand the devastating impact gambling addiction can have on people’s lives and I am determined to do everything I can to help anyone affected get the help and support they need.
“We know too many young people face their lives being blighted by problem gambling – so these new clinics will also look at what more can be done to help them.”
Read the full article NHS gambling addiction service for children launched
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