GambleAware welcomes Labour review into UK problem gambling

GambleAware welcomes Labour review into UK problem gambling

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 Posted by Luke Massey
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The party has proposed a new compulsory tax for bookmakers

GambleAware CEO Marc Etches has welcomed the increased focus on gambling related harm, after Labour said it would consider forcing bookmakers to pay a levy to help treat problem gamblers.

At the party’s conference in Brighton, deputy leader Tom Watson will announce a review of the problem, designed to tackle a “hidden epidemic of gambling addiction” in this country and examine the ability of the NHS to offer mental health services to gambling addicts.

He is expected to conclude that a compulsory levy system to fund NHS treatment is a solution to the “destructive cycle of addiction” that affects between 300,000 and 430,000 people in the UK.

Etches told TotallyGaming.com: “We welcome the increased focus on the harm gambling can cause to addicts and their loved ones. Gambling addiction is a recognised mental health condition, but treatment is not available on the NHS.

“We need the support of GPs, social workers, citizens advice and teachers before we can even come close to treating all those in need. Until then, free help and advice is available at BeGambleAware.org.”

As things stand, gambling companies are asked to contribute 0.1% of their revenues to GambleAware on a voluntary basis, but Etches has conceded that this leaves the charity “woefully short” of the funding needed for education, research, and addiction treatment for all problem gamblers in the country.

He said: "We ask for 0.1% of their revenues, it’s a very small amount, which I guess could be as much as £13million, but last year we only received £8million. So, they do need to do better."

Meanwhile, The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) has already said it would not oppose an "appropriate, compulsory levy" to fund problem gambling treatment in the UK.

An ABB spokesman said: “We have long argued that the gambling industry needs to work together to reduce the number of problem gamblers and address the fact that most problem gamblers move between different forms of gambling."

Totally Gaming says: GambleAware has welcomed Labour’s intention to review funding related to problem gambling, a recognised mental health condition which is not afforded treatment on the NHS. The charity believes that the proposed compulsory levy could address the relative failings of its current voluntary system.

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