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NHS set to open UK's first gambling addiction clinic for children

Gambling Commission estimates there are 55,000 children and young people with a gambling problem

The UK's first gambling addiction clinic for children and young people will open in September this year

Teen gambling
Online gaming sites and targeted adverts are fuelling gambling addiction. Picture: iStock

A new service to help children with gambling addictions has been launched.

The service for 13 to 25-year-olds will be based at the UK's only dedicated gambling addiction centre, the National Problem Gambling Clinic in London.

Up to 14 more gambling addiction clinics, initially focusing on adults, are expected to open in the coming months.

The new outpatient gambling clinics will be staffed by psychiatrists and clinical psychologists and can accept referrals from around the country.

Growing problem

The Gambling Commission estimates there are 55,000 children and young people aged 11 to 16 with a gambling problem, and about 450,000 children and young people are gambling regularly.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: 'I have seen first-hand the devastating impact gambling addiction can have on people's lives and I am determined to do everything I can to help anyone affected get the help and support they need.

'We know too many young people face their lives being blighted by problem gambling – so these new clinics will also look at what more can be done to help them.'

A Gambling Commission report published last winter found that 14% of 11 to 16-year-olds had spent their own money on gambling in the previous week, spending on average £16 each.

This compared to 13% who had drunk alcohol in the past week, 4% who had smoked cigarettes and 2% who had taken illegal drugs.

Simon Stevens
Simon Stevens.
Picture: Barney Newman

Online gaming and targeted adverts

NHS England said there was growing concern that online gaming sites and targeted adverts are fuelling addiction, including among children.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens condemned the 'fraction' spent by industry on helping those struggling with addiction compared to the amount spent on advertising and marketing.

Gambling firms have recently offered to increase contributions to help problem gamblers, but the Gambling Commission says a mandatory system would increase funding from about £12 million to at least £70 million a year.

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