NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch has slammed the sporting industry for allowing gambling companies to to hijack sport in pursuit of profit leading to an increase in betting-related ill health.

The major intervention from the NHS follows heavy criticism of gambling firms across the country and in parliament during the scandal of ‘bet to view’ football streaming, which turns fans into punters by having to place a bet in order to watch sports games.

 

Reports have also found that firms are offering hospitality tickets, VIP treatment, and free bets to people who regularly lose large amounts of money.

The gambling commission has confirmed plans to crack down later this year on bets placed by credit card while another powerful technique reportedly used involves delaying people from withdrawing their winnings, increasing the possibility of re-betting and potentially losing any gains.

400,000 people have a serious gambling problem in England

In a letter to industry chiefs, Claire Murdoch calls on gambling companies to:

  • Immediately restrict bets placed by credit cards, before the gambling commission’s restrictions come into force later this year
  • Ban the use of so called ‘VIP experiences’
  • Stop streaming live games, all of which could make a major difference in helping people avoid building up debts and spending money they can’t afford.

Over half of adults in England have gambled during the past year and NHS estimates show around 400,000 people have a serious gambling problem in England.

NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch said: “The links between the sporting industry and gambling are deeply disturbing, and the tactics used by some firms are shameful. It is high time sporting bodies get back to their roots and start focussing on fans and families enjoying watching their heroes play, rather than allowing firms to hijack sport in pursuit of profit.

“Our NHS Long Term Plan will see 14 gambling clinics there for people across the country as part of our annual £2.3 billion investment boost to mental health services, but the NHS cannot be expected to put out fires caused by other parts of society playing with matches, which is why we need the gambling industry to up its game.”

Specialist services to tackle addiction and the mental ill health that excessive betting can cause are being rolled out across the country as part of a £2.3 billion package of measures in the NHS Long Term Plan.

Last year, the gambling industry in the UK raised £14.5 billion in the UK whilst the Gambling Commission classes more than two million people as ‘at risk’ of addiction. The gambling industry also spends £1.5 billion on marketing and advertising campaigns, which can make it even more difficult for people to escape gambling addiction.