Gambling industry must help prevent cycle of addiction, says NHS

The NHS’s mental health chief says gambling firms must stop encouraging problem gamblers to spend more money.

Claire Murdoch said that the NHS cannot continue to “pick up the pieces” of damaged lives.

It comes as a former gambling addict told the BBC how betting companies “groomed him” with promotions such as free bets and tickets to football matches.

Vicious cycle

Murdoch wrote to several big gambling firms including bet365, William Hill and BetFred to outline her concerns about gamblers being offered incentives to spend more and more money.

She expressed concern that “offering people who are losing vast sums of money” incentives to continue betting would lead people “back into the vicious gambling cycle which many want to escape”.

A former addict who lost around £100,000 said that gambling firms have helped cause “a public health crisis”.

Urgent change

James Grimes told the Victoria Derbyshire programme that he had been “groomed” with free tickets and VIP treatment.

He added: “It is now time for urgent change to protect people.”

Earlier this week, the Gambling Commission announced that betting using credit cards will be banned from the middle of April.

Neil McArthur, the organisation’s Chief Executive, said the ban should reduce the risk of people, “gambling with money they do not have”.

According to the Commission, 22 per cent of those who use credit cards to gamble online are classed as problem gamblers.

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