Thursday, 16 January 2020

NHS Mental Health Boss Urges Gambling Firms To Tackle Problem Gambling

Gambling Addiction

The NHS Mental Health boss has written to five major gambling firms urging them to tackle gambling addiction.

Claire Murdoch, the Head of Mental Health in the UK, has written a letter to the Chief Executives of William Hill, Betfred, Bet365, GVC, and Flutter Entertainment, expressing concern that gambling firms were targeting problem gamblers.

In the letter, which was also reportedly sent to the UK Gambling Commission and Betting And Gaming Council Chairman Brigid Simmonds, Murdoch wrote: “As the head of England’s mental health services and a nurse of more than 30 years’ experience, I have seen first-hand the devastating impact on mental health wellbeing of addiction and am concerned that the prevalence of gambling in our society is causing harm.

“In particular… I am concerned that offering people who are losing vast sums of money free tickets, VIP experiences and free bets all proactively prompt people back into the vicious gambling cycle which many want to escape.”

Murdoch also highlighted that the NHS has been forced to open 14 additional gambling addiction clinics. She criticised gambling firms’ tactics which “turn the occasional flutter in a dangerous habit” in the letter, said that betting firms should stop streaming live matches and that the NHS “should not be expected to pick up the pieces from lives damaged by avoidable harm.”

In response to the letter, the Betting And Gaming Council has said that it is “determined to raise standards and improve safer gambling”. The BGC also stated that it is currently working on ways to combat the issues highlighted by Murdoch such as better age-verification checks and an increase of funding for the treatment, education and research for problem gambling.

The Commission’s New Rules

The news comes just days after the UK Gambling Commission announced a ban on credit cards for gambling from April 2020. According to the Commission, the ban will prevent customers from using credit cards and, according to some reports, PayPal.

What’s more, the Commission also announced that all casino operators in the UK must participate in the GamSTOP self-exclusion scheme by the end of March or risk losing their gambling licenses.  The service allows customers to self-exclude from gambling websites for an allocated period of time.

This week, the Commission also announced that it is investigating the FA Cup betting deal after the Football Association (FA) sparked criticism for selling the streaming rights to several online bookmakers. Many of the bookmakers required viewers to have an active account with them or have placed a bet or made a deposit 24 hours before the event.

Meanwhile, the BGC has been calling for tighter regulations regarding online gambling. Last year, the group urged the UK government to introduce a maximum betting limit on online video slots and has called for an end to VIP schemes, which the UK Gambling Commission is reportedly considering.