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Labour Propose Charge to Treat Gambling Addiction

by Glenn Baird - October 1, 2017

The UK’s Labour Party have continued their crusade against the gambling industry by announcing at this week’s party conference in Brighton that they would introduce a charge for all gambling companies to pay to help treat problem gamblers.

Tom Watson, who has already stated that his party will introduce laws that would see gambling companies erased from the front of football shirts has iterated that Labour would “finally confront problem gambling.”

Watson has pointed a critical finger at the 13 billion pounds worth of profit that gambling companies make each year and compared it to the £10 million that the industry spends in order to fund treatment for gambling addiction.

In a speech to Labour party members Watson targeted the current state of opt out policies in the UK by saying that, “We now know that when vulnerable people try to opt out of online gambling, companies don’t always block their accounts as they should.”

“Gambling companies are even harvesting data to deliberately target low-income gamblers and people who have given up.”

Gambling addiction has been a hot topic in the news after the Gambling Commission revealed earlier this year that £2 million people in the UK are either problem gamblers or are dangerously close to it.

Watson wants gambling addiction to be recognised as an illness and as such he expects to see it treated within the NHS. He went on to say during his address at the Labour party conference that, “My message to gambling firms today is clear: stop targeting vulnerable people. Start acting responsibly. And meet your obligation to help those whose lives have been blighted by addiction,”

“You can do it now, because it’s the right thing to do. Or you can wait for the next Labour government to do it for you.”

Opposition to Watson’s proposal has not been forthcoming. In fact a spokesperson from the Association of British Bookmakers has stated that the industry support, “an evidence-based approach to helping problem gambling in the UK and would support Mr Watson’s idea of a review, if it facilitated this”.

He went on to state that, “We also would not oppose an appropriate, compulsory levy on the gambling industry to fund problem gambling treatment, as we have long argued that the gambling industry needs to work together to reduce the number of problem gamblers and address the fact that most problem gamblers move between different forms of gambling.”