The National Health Service (NHS) is set to open the first clinic for treating young problem gamblers aged from 13 to 25. The move comes as part of the nationwide expansion of support for gambling addicts and part of the NHS long-term strategy under which 14 clinics are planned to start operation around England.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has previously explained that providing people who suffer from problem gambling with easy access to professional treatment and support is a matter of paramount importance. In addition, spreading gambling addiction has ended up with a growing concern for children and vulnerable members of society.
Now, the first NHS gambling clinic for children and young adults, the National Problem Gambling Clinic, is opening amid anti-gambling campaigners’ growing concerns that the easy access to online gambling websites and the targeted adverts are fuelling the problem among young people. For the time being, there are 55,000 children who are categorised as gambling addicts in the UK, as revealed by the UKGC.
The Commission, which is currently the main regulator for the local gambling industry, also found that about 450,000 people are gambling on a regular basis, their number being larger than the ones who have drunk alcohol, smoked or taken drugs.
The Clinic Opens as Part of NHS Long Term Plan Aimed at Tackling Gambling Addiction
The problem with spreading problem gambling in the UK is serious. For the time being, many people in England are categorised as problem gamblers, while a further 2 million are considered to be at risk of becoming addicted to gambling.
The opening of the new clinic for treatment of gambling addicts aged from 13 to 25 was welcomed by Carolyn Harris, a Labour MP and an anti-gambling campaigner. According to Ms Harris, problem gambling has been dismissed by the industry for far too long, so it was high time for operators to finally take some responsibility and pay for the harm they had caused to society.
Anti-gambling campaigners have been calling for stricter measures to be imposed on the sector, to prevent the “hidden epidemic” of problem gambling which has been emerging over the past few years. According to reports, problem gamblers are 15 times more likely to take their own lives than the general population. About a week ago, five of the largest gambling operators in the UK proposed to increase their voluntary contributions aimed at helping problem gambling charities. However, Liz Ritchie from the charity organisation “Gambling with Lives” does not believe that larger contributions would be enough to sustain the funding needed by the National Health Service.
The new clinic is set to start operation as part of a new network of services aimed at gambling addicts as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. About 14 NHS clinics are expected to be opened, with the NHS Northern Gambling Service based in Leeds being the first which is to start operation in the summer of 2019, followed by clinics based in Manchester and Sunderland. Children and young people who are addicted to gambling and suffer the negative consequences of problem gambling will also be provided with help at the National Problem Gambling Clinic in London.