Health Care

NHS Opens Child Gambling Clinics for the Loot Box Generation

Betting firms could be taxed to pay for addiction treatment, the head of the NHS has warned, as he launches a new service to help children with gambling problems.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive for the NHS in England, reportedly told The Guardian that the gambling industry spends approximately £1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) every year on advertising and marketing campaigns but is shelling out just a fraction of this amount on helping people deal with their addictions.

The NHS is preparing to open a nationwide set of gambling clinics for young people this year, to combat the "scourge" of problem gambling driven by gaming sites and targeted adverts.

It estimates that 55,000 children aged 11 to 16 have a gambling problem.

Up to 14 more gambling addiction clinics, are expected to open in the United Kingdom in the coming months. "A levy to fund evidence-based NHS treatment, research and education can substantially increase the money available, so that taxpayers and the NHS are not left to pick up a huge tab".

"'We support the creation of new NHS gambling clinics which will supplement existing services delivered by the Gordon Moody Association, GamCare's 120 treatment centres and their youth outreach programme".

Claire Murdoch, NHS England's national director for mental health said: "This has the potential to be a major turning point and it is all about making sure the NHS does everything it can to help people of all ages, who are seriously addicted to gambling".

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And now the health service is launching the first clinic for those youngsters in the grip of addiction.

The challenge is amplified in Leeds, where a recent study found the rate of problem gambling is twice the national average, with an estimated 13,000 people affected.

As well as things like fruit machines and lottery tickets, more than one in 10 young people said they had also played gambling-style games online.

"The links between problem gambling and stress, depression and mental health problems are growing and there are too many stories of lives lost and families destroyed", adds Mr Stevens.

The NHS England chief's statement comes as United Kingdom health networks prepare to launch a new directive tackling problem gambling amongst 13-to-25-year-olds. The NHS has a questionnaire that may be able to help you determine if you have a problem with gambling.

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