By Greg Dawson
The first NHS ran gambling clinic is to be opened after growing concerns over the rise in online and video game based gambling.
Across the country there are 55,000 children that are classed as having a gambling problem across Britain according to the Gambling Commission.
Statistics have shown the gambling industry rakes in £14.5 billion a year while only spending a fraction on helping people deal with addiction.
Recently the video game industry is being challenged by politicians over in-game Loot boxes.
Loot boxes are in-game purchases which when bought gives the player a randomised reward, meaning each loot box bought has an uncertain outcome a player is wagering money on.
Many argue this is no different from gambling on a slot machine, with Belgium and Netherlands banning them completely over fears of leading young people to addiction.
The latest argument from gaming company EA, the makers of popular video games such as Fortnite, Fifa and Star Wars Battlefront 2, is that loot boxes are “no different to kinder eggs which have been tolerated for years”. They prefer to use the term “surprise mechanics” and that they are “fun and ethical” although a study by The Gambling Commission showed 31% of 11-16-year-olds had bought in-game loot boxes.
Liz Richie from Gambling with Lives, a charity set up by families who have lost loved ones to gambling-related suicide, said:
“We are on the brink of an epidemic fuelled by industrialised gambling and addicts are 15 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population.
“Increased voluntary contributions proposed by some gambling companies will not provide the sustained independent funding needed by the NHS.
“People are dying – bereaved families call on the government to introduce a mandatory levy on the industry’s £14.5bn profits a year.”
The clinic will open as part of a new network of services for addicts, part of the NHS Long Term plan.
The only gambling treatment for children has been available is in London but now the services are being made accessible across the country.
One of the first clinics to be opened is the NHS Northern Gambling Service in Leeds this summer, specialising in help for young people aged 13 – 25.
Study by Gambling Commission: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/pdf/survey-data/young-people-and-gambling-2018-report.pdf
The first NHS Gambling Clinics for children to be opened across the UK
By Greg Dawson