NHS boss slams gam­ing gi­ants af­ter mil­lions more turn to bet­ting on­line

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Eleanor Hay­ward Health Re­porter Turn to Page 2

THe ag­gres­sive pro­mo­tion of on­line bet­ting has helped turn half the pop­u­la­tion into gam­blers, a re­port warned last night. Cam­paign­ers said the epi­demic risked the health of a generation of young peo­ple.

Two thirds of men aged 25 to 34 gam­bled last year, nearly half of them on­line. For the na­tion as a whole the fig­ure was 53 per cent, ac­cord­ing to the NHS sur­vey.

It painted a bleak pic­ture of a coun­try also strug­gling with obe­sity, heavy drink­ing and chronic dis­eases. Si­mon Stevens, chief ex­ec­u­tive of NHS Eng­land, said the bet­ting gi­ants must start tak­ing bet­ter care of cus­tomers.

He added: ‘These new stats are a stark re­minder of how com­mon gam­bling is in our so­ci­ety, and how easy it is to be­come ad­dicted, par­tic­u­larly with the ag­gres­sive push into on­line gam­bling.

‘It is high time that all these firms who spend many mil­lions on mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing step up to the plate and take their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties se­ri­ously.’

The Health Sur­vey, which polled 8,000 adults and 2,000 chil­dren


across Eng­land in 2018, pro­vides a snap­shot of health and well­be­ing.

It is the first time com­pre­hen­sive gam­bling fig­ures have been in­cluded. They show that an alarm­ing 15 per cent of men bet on­line.

Ian Hamilton, an ad­dic­tions lec­turer at the Univer­sity of York, said: ‘This hasn’t hap­pened by ac­ci­dent as we have so many more op­por­tu­ni­ties to gam­ble than we did a few years ago, from the lottery to on­line poker and bingo.’

Matt Zarb-Cousin, of the Cam­paign for Fairer Gam­bling, said: ‘Many peo­ple en­joy an oc­ca­sional flut­ter on the Grand Na­tional or the lottery but no gam­bling is en­tirely risk-free.

‘We have seen an in­crease in pop­u­lar­ity of the more dan­ger­ous and ad­dic­tive forms of gam­bling, on­line and in fixed odds bet­ting ter­mi­nals. This means the quan­tity of harm gam­bling is caus­ing on so­ci­ety has in­creased.

‘The younger you start the more likely you are to be­come ad­dicted. On­line gam­bling poses a huge risk to a whole generation of young men.’

The Daily Mail has cam­paigned for greater pro­tec­tion for cus­tomers, with a cam­paign called Stop the Gam­bling Preda­tors.

Last year the Gov­ern­ment tight­ened the rules around con­tro­ver­sial ‘fixed-odds’ bet­ting ter­mi­nals in a bid to curb gam­bling prob­lems.

But the num­ber of prob­lem gam­blers re­mains sta­ble at 3.6 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

There are be­tween 250 and 650 gam­bling-re­lated sui­cides in the UK ev­ery year, ac­cord­ing to the char­ity Gam­bling with Lives.

Health Sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock said: ‘I have seen first hand the dev­as­tat­ing im­pact of gam­bling-re­lated harm.

‘We are de­ter­mined to do what­ever we can to tackle gam­bling-re­lated harm and a Con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment will in­tro­duce 12 new gam­bling clin­ics across the coun­try.’

The study also found that just 28 per cent of adults eat the rec­om­mended five or more por­tions of fruit and veg­etafive

‘Do what­ever we can’

bles a day. Some 26 per cent of men and 29 per cent of women were obese and 7 per cent of both sexes have been di­ag­nosed with di­a­betes – up from 2 per cent in 1994.

The study also found that mil­lions are drink­ing too much, es­pe­cially in mid­dle age. Ten per cent of men and per cent of women said they drink al­co­hol nearly ev­ery day. Cam­paign­ers warned that bad habits were un­der­min­ing the na­tion’s health.

Caro­line Cerny of the Obe­sity Health Al­liance said: ‘The con­sis­tently high rates of over­weight and obe­sity is sadly re­flec­tive of the en­vi­ron­ment we live in – one that is flooded with un­healthy food and drinks and re­lent­less mar­ket­ing to tell us to buy and eat more and more.

‘But it doesn’t have to be like this. Twenty-five years ago, rates of adult obe­sity were al­most half what they are to­day. The Gov­ern­ment can play a vi­tal role in shap­ing our food en­vi­ron­ment to help us all be healthy.

‘This is why we need the next gov­ern­ment to ur­gently bring in new reg­u­la­tions to re­strict the mar­ket­ing of junk food and com­pel the food in­dus­try to make ev­ery­day food less sug­ary and calorific.’

Dr Giota Mitrou, di­rec­tor of re­search at the World Can­cer Re­search Fund, said: ‘ It is ex­tremely wor­ry­ing that around two in three adults in Eng­land are over­weight or obese, nearly three in four aren’t eat­ing their five a day and don’t do 30 min­utes of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity a week, and one in three men drink more than the rec­om­mended amount of al­co­hol ev­ery week.

‘All of these put peo­ple at an in­creased risk of can­cer and other se­ri­ous con­di­tions.’

The gam­bling per­cent­age falls from 53 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion to 39 per cent when lottery sales are ex­cluded.

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