NHS England this morning have opened their first dedicated clinic for youngsters aged 13 – 25 to tackle problem gambling. The clinic which will be in London, is the first of 14 proposed such clinics. The gambling industry has come under intense scrutiny and criticism for spending in excess of £1bn per year on advertising, but only pumping back a small percentage in profits in dealing with the cause and affects of problem gambling.
However, in a move to potentially head off a mandatory increase in the levy gaming firms contribute to fund problem gambling resources, several of the ‘big hitters’ proposed increasing the voluntary levy of 0.1% to 1% over the next five years.
Speaking about the introduction of gambling clinics to specifically help the young who have been exposed and addicted to gambling, the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens said: “There are too many stories of lives lost and families destroyed. This is an industry that splashes £1.5 billion on marketing and advertising campaigns, much of it now pumped out online and through social media, but it has been spending just a fraction of that helping customers and their families deal with the direct consequences of addiction.”
“The sums just don’t add up and that is why as well as voluntary action it makes sense to hold open the possibility of a mandatory levy if experience shows that’s what’s needed. A levy to fund evidence-based NHS treatment, research and education can substantially increase the money available, so that taxpayers and the NHS are not left to pick up a huge tab.”