Premier League football clubs which promote betting companies need to do more to tackle gambling addiction, the head of NHS England has said.
Simon Stevens said that clubs need to put pressure on their sponsors to fund treatment for addicts.
He said it was “deeply concerning” that gambling companies were “failing to play their part” in tackling addiction, and said it should not be up to the taxpayer to “pick up the pieces”.
Speaking at a Health and Care Innovation Expo conference in Manchester, Mr Stevens said: “There is an increasing link between problem gambling and stress, depression and other mental health problems.
“Doctors report that two thirds of problem gamblers get worse without help”.
He added that the NHS would now work with the Premier League on how to persuade gambling companies “to do the right thing”.
The Gambling Commission recommends that betting companies operating in Britain contribute to a joint fund of £10 million towards addiction treatment – less than 0.1 per cent of total revenues.
However, of the nine gambling companies which sponsor the shirts of Premier League teams, eight have made no donation.
Mr Stevens said if people were serious about prevention, they need to “be getting on to the Premier League and asking them to ensure that those foreign gambling firms are playing their part”.
He added that the health of the nation “is everyone’s responsibility”.
Last week, Notts County defender Matt Tootle revealed he became addicted to betting at 16, adding that gambling is “rife” in football.
He said: “I’ve been a compulsive gambler for as long as I remember and it has brought to me some of my worst memories.”
“Many times I have tried to quit and been unsuccessful and almost lost loved ones closest to me who tried to help.”
He added: “This problem is rife in football and something needs to be done about it and I’m hoping to also help with that now.”
Gambling with our future
The English Football League has spoken to his club, and have offered to support Tootle in overcoming his addiction.
The Christian Institute warned against the liberalising of gambling laws more than a decade ago in our publication Gambling with our future.