The national mental health director for NHS England says gambling firms should be served with a compulsory levy to fund addiction treatment.
A voluntary system is currently in place, allowing the industry to decide how much it contributes to helping gambling addicts. But Claire Murdoch, national mental health director for NHS England, has criticised the system, saying gambling firms must contribute more to funding addiction treatment.
Murdoch’s comments come amid the UK Government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act, as well as a rise in spending on online casino games and slot machines. She said 750 people have been referred to specialist clinics for treatment of serious addiction since April 2020, with the health service aiming to open more gambling clinics throughout England in the near future.
“After seeing the destruction the gambling industry has caused to young people in this country, it is clear that firms are focused on profit at the expense of people’s health, while the NHS is increasingly left to pick up the pieces,” said Murdoch.
“In a year when the NHS has dealt with our biggest challenge yet in Covid-19, the health service’s psychologists and nurses have been treating hundreds of people with severe gambling addictions.
“The gambling industry must take more responsibility, as the nation has come together over the last year to support the NHS, whether it be volunteering as vaccinators or showing their gratitude to staff. The bookmakers must also step up and agree to a mandatory levy to pay for dealing with the harms of problem gambling.”