The head of mental health services in England has called for drastic action against gambling operators to tackle a crisis of addiction.
According to widespread reports in the British press, including Sky News and The Guardian, Claire Murdoch, head of mental health services for the NHS in England, has said the link between betting and mental illness is “increasingly clear” and promotional offers like free bets, bonuses and VIP incentives need to be banned.
Murdoch is said to have written to the CEOs of five of the biggest gambling operators in the UK; Bet365, BetFred, Flutter, GVC and William Hill, accusing them of engaging in predatory marketing tactics that are turning occasional gambling into dangerous habits.
The general gist of Murdoch’s argument is that an already critically overstretched, taxpayer funded NHS can no longer be expected to pick up the tab for treating problem gambling, which is clearly an avoidable harm.
Responding to Murdoch’s letter, the Betting and Gaming Council reiterated its promise to raise standards and improve safer gambling, and pointed to the work it is doing regarding new age-verification checks, and investment in education, research and treatment. The council has also invited Murdoch to meet with them to discuss the issues.
The intervention from Murdoch comes in the wake of the UKGC announcing a complete ban on using credit cards for gambling from 14th April (read more).