While the UK Government is facing harsh criticisms for not approving the Gambling Commission’s call for introducing the mandatory levy, Labour Party’s deputy leader Tom Watson warns that problem gambling is an epidemic in disguise.
As reported by the UK daily, New Statesman, Watson terms problem gambling as a public health issue and says that there is an urgent need for more research into problem gambling and also for “far more specialist treatment for an addiction that ruins lives.”
According to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), over 373,000 people are suffering from gambling addiction in England and 30,000 and 27,000 in Scotland and Wales respectively.
Earlier studies estimated that gambling addiction amongst children in the UK had increased by 400 percent in the last two years. The study found that one in seven teenagers between 11 to 17 years gets involved with gambling regularly.
The deputy leader also pointed out that the current government is not doing enough to address the menace of gambling addiction and that if their party comes to power, they will take strong steps.
Citing exposure to gambling adverts as one of the major contributors to increasing gambling addiction Watson said that “We are bombarded by gambling adverts that tell us that we can’t enjoy football, for example, without betting some money. As new technologies emerge, so do new forms of gambling that are highly sophisticated, probably addictive, and often unregulated.”
The UK gambling commission has been trying to mend the situation by introducing new regulations. Last week, the gambling regulator introduced mandatory user verification to curb underage betting. UKGC also recently released a framework to asses the impact of gambling on minors. In its latest national strategy on gambling, the regulator had indicated at a significant policy change by referring to gambling as a potential disease.
Inadequate funds for spreading gambling awareness is also one of the significant roadblocks which doesn’t allow organizations like Gamble Aware to execute their plans fully.
As a part of the 2005 gambling regulation, the companies are expected to contribute 0.1 percent of their revenue towards gambling awareness as a part of their social responsibility. However, top bookmakers and gambling operators including William Hill, Bet 365 and Paddy Power Betfair have not been fulfilling their commitments.
A recent study also found that gambling operators rarely promote safe gambling through their twitter accounts.
Earlier at Casino.buzz we also reported how mandatory levy in the UK could be a solution to limit gambling addiction.