UK’s National Health Service Breaks Up with the Gambling Industry

Posted on: January 31, 2022, 10:07h. 

Last updated on: February 1, 2022, 10:23h.

The days of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) accepting donations or funds from charities associated with the gambling industry are over. This could impact GambleAware and its standing relationship with the government body.

UK National Health Service
The UK’s National Health Service provides an array of public health services, including research into gambling addiction. It is distancing itself from gambling-related charities and will no longer receive donations from the gaming sector. (Image: The New York Times)

The Times reports that the UK’s publicly-funded healthcare system is going to sever its ties with the sector. This is in an effort to not appear influenced in certain decision-making processes.

Specifically, the NHS is involved in a number of responsible gambling initiatives. It has conducted extensive research on the subject, much of which was done in collaboration with GambleAware.

Research Will Continue, but Without GambleAware

Moving forward, the government agency will continue to conduct research, education, and treatment (RET) programs. However, they most likely won’t involve GambleAware.

GambleAware helped the NHS establish several RET clinics starting in 2019. There are four of these in Leeds, London, Manchester, and Sunderland. The responsible gambling charity has spent millions of dollars supporting the centers.

Collaborating with the UK Gambling Commission, and supporting the UK’s National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harm, GambleAware collects contributions from licensed operators. These funds help finance the RET programs on the local and national levels.

In its most recent update, the charity indicated that it had collected £19 million (US$25.5 million) from operators to support those initiatives. However, the NHS now wants to avoid any conflict of interest that could arise from gambling companies financing gambling research.

Problem Gambling Among Women on the Rise

A formal announcement about the change in policy at the NHS is coming this week. It arrives as GambleAware has prepared the results of its latest research, indicating a rise in problem gambling among females.

Up to one million women are at high risk from gambling addiction, according to the study. This is based on the fact that women visit online casinos and bingo sites most often in winter. Between December and March, there is, on average, a 29% increase in visitation to those sites.

Gambling addicts tend to be predominantly male. However, treatment for gambling addiction among women rose by more than 100% in the last five years. The number of women seeking treatment was 2,423 in 2020-21, a significant increase from 1,134 in 2015-16.

The gambling charity explains in its findings that the majority of these people don’t seek treatment. Two in five are unable to get help because of stigmatism and embarrassment.

GambleAware discovered that women are more likely to avoid seeking help than men. This despite that they are more likely to report mental health problems related to gambling, such as anxiety or stress.

The final results of the study won’t be ready until later this year. However, GambleAware is releasing the data now with a motive. The UK is in the process of updating its gambling laws, and the new measures are likely to be presented within the next couple of months. The charity likely wants to make sure it has a say in the new rules that arrive in the gambling industry.