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NEWS 23 January 2018

Citizens Advice: Mandatory levy needed to tackle problem gambling

By Robert Simmons
Public assistance charity Citizens Advice has called on the UK government to require betting companies to pay more to combat gambling-related harm, and replace the current system where the industry decides how much it contributes.

Releasing a statement on the same day as its report on problem gambling, called ‘Out of Luck’, Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice Chief Executive said: “While we recognise that gambling companies contribute towards support services, the voluntary agreement currently in place is not sufficient.

“Our research shows the life-changing effects problem gambling can have on the families, friends and work colleagues of the gambler - from increased debt to family breakdown.

“We’re calling on the government to use the powers it already has to compel the gambling industry to contribute enough money to fund research, education and support for the treatment of all those affected by problem gambling.”

Its report aims to illustrate the effects that problem gambling has on the 4.3m family members, friends and work colleagues of the UK’s reported 430,000 problem gamblers.

Of these, more than a third of households with children where there was a problem gambler experienced family breakdown, while almost one in five people who had a problem gambler in their life said there were times they could not afford food.

In addition, more than half of people affected by a problem gambler suffered mental ill health as a result of their behaviour.

The report claims that the harmful effects from problem gambling include financial difficulties, mental health problems and relationship breakdowns that problem gamblers suffer can often spread to their family members.

It later goes on to state that the government should: “set the levy at a suitable amount to ensure funding is sufficient for expanded support services for both problem gamblers and affected others.”

The report also suggests that GambleAware should expand their problem gambling tools to cover financial controls, increase awareness of its programs and ensure the continuity and suitability of its research.

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