Gambling operators ‘should be forced to pay 1% of their profits to help tackle addiction to betting’
- Families of people who committed suicide over gambling addiction spoke out
- They want firms to donate 1% of profits and a introduce a £2 maximum stake
- The UK has an estimated 430,000 adult gambling addicts with 1.57m at risk
Gambling operators should be forced to pay 1 per cent of their profits to help tackle addiction to betting, a new campaign group has demanded.
Bereaved parents whose children were driven to suicide by despair over gambling debts have called for the Government to introduce the levy to fund better treatment for addicts and support for families.
The group, Gambling With Lives, said addicts were up to three times more likely to attempt suicide than those fighting other addictions, and needed vastly improved support.
It has called for the 1 per cent levy, a maximum £2 stake for online casino and just for fun slots, and for greater recognition of gambling as a public health issue.
Gambling operators should be forced to pay 1 per cent of their profits to help tackle addiction to betting, a campaign group has said. File image used
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Britain has an estimated 430,000 adult gambling addicts, with 1.57million more said to be ‘at risk’ of developing a real addiction, and experts have warned that a growing number of children are becoming hooked.
Research last year by the Gambling Commission found 25,000 11- to 16-year-olds were ‘problem gamblers’, with another 36,000 deemed ‘at risk’.
Liz Ritchie, whose 24-year-old son Jack killed himself last year after he became hooked on online betting while still at secondary school, accused gambling operators of ‘grooming’ youngsters.
She told the Mail: ‘He was great. But he was groomed by the gambling companies. These are ordinary children targeted by British companies.’
She and husband Charles have joined forces with other bereaved parents to form Gambling With Lives to lobby politicians for a change in the law.
They want the Government to introduce a statutory levy on operators of at least 1 per cent of gross profits to pay for research, education and treatment.
Jack Ritchie, from Sheffield, (pictured with his mother Liz) committed suicide at just 24 after battling a gambling addiction
Britain has an estimated 430,000 adult gambling addicts, with 1.57million more said to be ‘at risk’ of developing a real addiction, and experts have warned that a growing number of children are becoming hooked. File image used
The industry overall made a profit of £13.8billion in the 2015/16 financial year, meaning under the levy it would have had to donate £138million.
But under a deal struck with the last Labour government when it deregulated gambling in 2007, operators are asked for only a 0.1 per cent voluntary contribution.
The charity Gamble Aware, which administers the donations and supports Britain’s only specialist clinic for problem gambling, said that in 2016 it received just £8million, which rose to £9million last year.
A spokesman added: ‘We would like to see the introduction of a statutory levy, as there has been a consistent shortfall in funding.’
Conservative peer Lord Chadlington, who has campaigned for tougher controls for online gambling, said he would support the 1 per cent levy.
He added: ‘We are on the lip of a gambling epidemic, and the industry must step up and take some responsibility for this.
‘There should be a 1 per cent mandatory levy on all gambling profits which would generate over £130million a year. That’s how we will avert this imminent epidemic.’
Gambling With Lives says addicts were up to three times more likely to attempt suicide than those fighting other addictions, and needed vastly improved support. File image used
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