Health

NHS chief calls for Premier League clubs to tackle gambling addiction


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Premier League football clubs should do more to help tackle gambling addiction, the head of NHS England has said.

Simon Stevens said reports some betting companies were “failing to play their part” in funding services to treat gamblers were “deeply concerning”.

He described gambling addiction as one of the “new threats” facing the NHS.

Mr Stevens said the NHS would be contacting the Premier League to ensure companies that sponsor top clubs “do the right thing”.

‘Deeply concerning’

An estimated 430,000 people in the UK have a gambling problem.

Betting companies who profit from the industry in Britain have been encouraged to donate money to the charity Gamble Aware, with a total target of £10m a year to help to treat addicts.

However, a number of foreign gambling companies that sponsor Premier League clubs have not donated this financial year, The Sunday Times reported in July.

Speaking at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester, Mr Stevens said: “There is an increasing link between problem gambling and stress, depression and other mental health problems.

“Doctors report that two thirds of problem gamblers get worse without help and the NHS does offer specialist treatment.

“But reports that foreign gambling companies are failing to play their part in co-funding help for addicts are deeply concerning.

“Taxpayers and the NHS should not be left to pick up the pieces – the health of the nation is everyone’s responsibility.

“The NHS will now work with the Premier League on how we persuade these foreign gambling companies to do the right thing.”

Mr Stevens said the NHS needs to get “more serious about aspects of prevention in public health, including what you might call ‘the new public health”‘.

Around 370,000 11 to 16-year-olds spent money on gambling in the course of one week in England, Scotland and Wales, according to a report published by the Gambling Commission last year.

The regulator estimated that 25,000 of them were problem gamblers.

A spokeswoman for Gambling Aware said it welcomed the speech by Mr Stevens.

“With nearly half the clubs in the Premier League, and over two thirds of the Championship League sponsored by gambling companies, we are seriously concerned the relationship between sport and gambling has reached a tipping point.

“There is a real risk gambling advertising and sponsorships are normalising gambling for children…

“We would like to see all clubs, leagues, and broadcasters who profit from gambling work with us to help fund treatment for this hidden addiction.”



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