The gambling industry is set to face a new multi-million pound statutory ‘addiction tax’ to fund the prevention and treatment of gambling-related harm, senior NHS clinicians dealing with gambling addiction have said. Game.
Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones, director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, and Dr Matt Gaskell, clinical manager of the NHS Northern Gambling Service, are calling for the creation of a new independent health board to tackle addition to gambling.
It would be funded by a statutory levy on gambling revenues under the “polluter pays principle” – where the most harmful parts of the industry pay the most.
This council would oversee the spending of levy money, which could reach tens of millions of pounds a year, with the aim of reducing gambling-related harm by 50% within five years, from 2024.
In a paper for the Social Market Foundation think tank, Professor Bowden-Jones and Dr Gaskell said current voluntary arrangements for industry support for addiction services are failing badly.
“The current voluntary system has no integration of NHS services, no consistency in funding decisions, no independent long-term impact assessment or regulation through the Care Quality Commission, no coordinated oversight of research councils on harms research, and serious questions have been raised about the independence of this voluntary scheme from gambling industry influence,” they wrote.
“Furthermore, decisions about health service funding are not overseen by experts from the Department of Health and Social Care, as one might expect, but rather by officials from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports.”
Currently, gaming companies are making voluntary donations to the GambleAware charity, to fund a range of treatment services for people suffering from gambling addiction. This voluntary agreement will provide up to £100m over a period of four years.
In February, NHS England severed ties with GambleAware over concerns about the group’s connection to the gambling industry. Instead, the NHS will fully fund its own gambling services across England from 1 April.
The government is reviewing gambling laws in the UK, with proposals to be published in a white paper expected in a few weeks.
SMF senior researcher and co-author of the paper, Dr James Noyes, said the government should seize the opportunity to place the prevention and treatment of gambling harms under the direction of the DHSC, which is funded through a statutory framework. appropriate.
“In 2020, a House of Lords select committee report said it was ‘unbelievable’ that the DCMS had staunchly refused to introduce a statutory tax on the gambling industry. Yet two years later, we still haven’t seen progress,” said Dr. Noyes.
“This despite dozens of leading clinicians, academics and parliamentarians calling for an end to the current voluntary agreement between DCMS, GambleAware and the gaming industry.”