Underage Gambling Clinics to be Launched by the NHS
There has been a huge drive to decrease underage gambling in the UK in recent years. The Gambling Commission has forced casinos and sports books to do more to identify potential underage gamblers and problem gamblers, they have cut back on the use of fixed-online betting terminals and now, thanks to a new initiative by the National Health Service (NHS) they are taking yet another major step forward.
The NHS, which is the country’s state-run health service, has announced plans to establish as many as 14 clinics across England that will specialize in underage gambling and helping minors who have become addicted to gambling or are otherwise suffering as a result of this activity.
The very first facility will open in London towards the end of 2019, after which similar facilities will be opened in major northern cities, including Leeds, Sunderland and Manchester. This could increase as the months and years wear on, with up to 10 more being established across key locations in the UK.
All of these facilities will be aimed at treating gambling addiction in those aged between 13 and 25. Most forms of gambling is legal above the age of 18 in the United Kingdom and gambling addiction is common in those aged between 18 and 25, which is clearly what the NHS are hoping to combat. The treatment they will provide will be offered free of charge and will include guidance and counseling.
National Problem Gambling Clinics
Dubbed “National Problem Gambling Clinics”, the goal of these facilities is to try and combat the rising threat of problem gambling and underage gambling in the United Kingdom. It has been said that as many as 450,000 youngsters in the UK gamble on a regular basis with as many as 55,000 going on to develop a gambling addiction. There are around 10 million people between the ages of 13 and 25 in the UK, so this is a disproportionately high percentage.
In fact, a recent report by the Guardian newspaper estimated that this number is higher than the number of youngsters who have taken drugs or consumed alcohol, suggesting that the threat of gambling addiction is one of the biggest problems that the nation’s youth is facing right now.
At Risk Gambling
The Chief Executive for the NHS in England spoke to the Guardian about the installment of National Problem Gambling Clinics and noted that while £1.5 billion is spent on advertising gambling sites and services, only a fraction of this goes towards preventing and treating gambling addiction.
He went on to add that many hundreds of thousands of people have a gambling addiction in England and that an additional 2 million are at risk. These facilities, and the money that is being spent on them, prove that the NHS is taking this issue very seriously and doing all it can to reduce the threat.
The links between problem gambling and depression, stress, and mental health have been known for many years. The general consensus is that if the NHS succeed in reducing gambling addiction amongst the youngest demographics, they may also reduce the damage done by these issues. It could also lessen the suicide rate, which is one of the biggest killers of young men and women in the developed world.
The Development Director for GamCare, who are also dedicated to reducing the threat of problem gambling, commended the NHS’s efforts but added that additional education programs are “badly needed” in the county’s schools.
He said that schools are “more likely to [teach]… sessions around things like drugs and alcohol” as well as “safe sex” and other societal problems, but tend to overlook problem gambling.