The government’s Gambling White Paper has been labelled as ‘very weak’ by an NHS clinical lead, who has warned that the UK’s growing levels of addiction will only increase from this point on.
The clinical lead for the NHS Northern Gambling Service, Dr Matthew Gaskell, has warned policy makers that the recently published Gambling White Paper will not prevent problem gamblers from harm, or lead to a drop in referrals.
Mr Gaskell, when prompted whether he believed the introduction of the government’s new measures would result in a decrease in clinic referrals, said: “No, I expect them to increase.”
Although he did cite the expansion of the NHS’s gambling outreach as one of the factors for this jump, he was quick to point out that he fails to see how the Gambling White Paper will lead to significant change.
“When I reflect on what we see across the NHS clinics, we expect to see a continuation of the culture of high frequency continuous gambling. Unaffordable losses look set to continue,” he said.
“As my colleagues have expressed, a huge miss on advertising, very weak on marketing and sponsorship of our national sports – the current voluntary arrangement for the front of football shirts is a case in point, with recent research showing that only 5% of gambling logos would be addressed during a live Premier League football match by that measure.”
Mr Gaskell also continued by adding that policy making remains under the influence of the gambling industry, which wields significant economic power. He continued by saying that there appears to be little incentive for bookmakers to comply with the measures, citing record fines from the Gambling Commission and continual systematic failures within NHS clinics.
“We need to insulate policy-making from the influence of the gambling industry, and that’s a major concern for all of us.
“There seems to be little incentive for operators to comply – we could draw upon the Gambling Commission record fines as well as examples in our clinic of systemic and continuing failures.The ease of access to addictive content looks set to continue.
“Overall this is not a prevention-of-harm White Paper.”