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NHS director says gambling companies must pay for addiction treatment

8 April 2021
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Gambling firms should be hit with a compulsory levy to fund treatment for addition, a director for NHS England has said this week.

Claire Murdoch, national mental health director for NHS England, says gambling firms have profited greatly from the pandemic and are leaving the NHS to "pick up the pieces"

Lock­down has seen surge in gambling

A succession of lockdowns has seen huge profits for betting firms, caused by a spike in online casino games and slot machine usage.

According to Murdoch, the gambling industry's current contribution to prevention and treatment of addiction is minuscule and the gambling industry must be held to account for the consequences of gambling related harm.

“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.”
Claire Murdoch National Mental Health Director for NHS England

Just the tip of the iceberg

Since April 2020, 750 people have been referred for serious gambling addiction at NHS specialist clinics.

However, this is believed to be just the "tip of the iceberg" and more clinics will need to open as a result of increased incidences of addiction.

According to studies there are between 300,000 and 1.4m gambling addicts in Britain, yet only 3 per cent of them get specialist help and instead rely on helplines funded by the gambling industry.

“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,”
Claire Murdoch National Mental Health Director for NHS England

CARE joins oth­ers in calls for man­dat­ory levy

Alongside MPs across the political spectrum, addiction experts and the Gambling Commission, CARE is calling for a mandatory levy on gambling firms to fund addiction treatment.

The current voluntary system provides as little as £10m-£15m a year.

As the Government review the current law on gambling, a mandatory levy on gambling companies should be one of the first measures to be rolled out.

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