The Deputy leader of Labour, Tom Watson, has announced that bookmakers should be asked to pay a levy to fund the treatment of gambling addicts by the NHS. With recent studies showing that the number of over-16s diagnosed with gambling problems growing by one-third of the previous figure in just three years, Labour have sought to launch a probe into the mental health services sector to decipher how they have coped with geometrically rising number of people with gambling problems.
The Shadow Culture Secretary, Mr. Watson, has railed against gambling companies that focus on those with gambling problems deliberately, stating that such companies’ taxes should be reviewed and the funds used in aiding those whose lives have severely suffered as a result of gambling addiction. Statistics presented by the Gambling Commission show that an estimate 430,000 people currently above the age of 16, are plagued by the gambling habit, while another whopping 2,000,000 or over are at risk of becoming addicts in the nearest future.
Speaking at the ongoing Labour Party conference, Mr. Watson, who buttressed his point with the above stated statistics, stated that gambling companies have on a constant basis been deliberately targeting the poorest communities in the country, especially children and young adults, not leaving out those already diagnosed with the problem. He tags this as inconsideration on the part these companies resulting from greed which has made stay in the face of those with the problem, leaving them with no chance to opt out.
He concluded by saying that, gambling companies must be duly held accountable for the misuse of information at their disposal, as they have been known to harvest data targeting low income gamblers, he termed this as a breach of trust and abuse of power.
In line with this, the party has pledged to crack down on gambling companies, reducing the maximum stakes at fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2, they also proposed that bookmakers should be restricted from sponsoring football teams.