Marc Etches, Chief Executive of industry charity GambleAware, has backed NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens’ call for better funding of problem-gambling prevention and treatment by betting and football stakeholders.
Addressing the Health & Care Expo in Manchester, Stevens detailed that the NHS governance viewed compulsive gambling as ‘a new threat facing its organisation’.
Leading NHS England, Stevens detailed concerns related to the under-funding of GambleAware by sector stakeholders, who are expected to voluntarily contribute 0.1% of revenues to the charity which funds problem-gambling treatment, research and prevention programmes.
In his address, Stevens further criticised Premier League football clubs for partnering with online gambling/betting brands which had failed to contribute funds to GambleAware initiatives.
“The NHS has opened its first mental health clinic aimed at gambling, and the Gambling Commission estimates there are 430,000 people with a gambling problem,” Stevens said.
“This is at the same time as the voluntary contribution from the gambling industry has not been responded to by eight overseas firms who sponsor Premier League clubs, so we need to get onto the Premier League to make sure they contribute.”
Issuing a response, GambleAware CEO Marc Etches backed Stevens’ statement. He said: “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 welcome the call from NHS England for gambling companies, wherever they are based, to contribute more to treating problem gambling. This mental health condition affects 430,000 people, and although free treatment is available through BeGambleAware.org, only 2% of those who need help come forward to get it. 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.”