On the 17th of October 2023, the Government announced the consultation for the proposed introduction of a new levy on gambling operators that could raise £100 million annually for research, prevention and treatment. The bulk of the funding from the levy (£40-60 million) is earmarked for treatment, representing a significant increase from the current £6.5 million spent on specialist treatment. As a result of this proposed levy, the NHS would be set to become the main commissioner of treatment for gambling addiction.
As an alliance of NHS addiction providers, including those who provide specialist gambling services, we wholeheartedly support responsibility being given to the NHS for what is a healthcare issue. The impact of gambling harm is widespread and ultimately, people who experience gambling harm are often stigmatised and treated as though gambling is a choice, not a condition. We believe that the proposed levy signifies a key step forward in putting the needs of people affected by gambling harm on a more equal footing with other healthcare conditions.
Additionally, we commend the focus on funded research which would help to establish a stable, evidence-driven foundation for a long-term strategy in addressing and preventing gambling addiction. It is our strong belief that this research should be conducted independently, without any affiliations or conflicts of interest with the gambling industry. This approach would enable more people in need of support to access the resources and treatment necessary for their recovery.
We also recognise the need to enhance public health policies to reduce gambling-related harms from the outset. The levy allocates some funding for prevention, but its impact is likely to be limited due to the prevailing commercial landscape. So while we welcome the additional funding for treatment, we hope that the distribution of funds across prevention and treatment will be reviewed in future in order to take account of our growing understanding of the scale of the issue and our knowledge of what works.
Danny Hames, Chair of the NHS APA comments, “We welcome the proposed introduction of the gambling levy and believe its implementation will signal a step forward in recognising gambling addiction as a serious healthcare issue rather than an individual’s choice. By increasing access to treatment and establishing a long-term strategy for prevention, we hope to see a significant reduction in the number of people affected by gambling addiction. As a sector, however, we must ensure we work in partnership to challenge and scrutinise harmful gambling industry practices, which contribute significantly to the effects of gambling harms experienced by individuals. So whilst the proposed levy arrangements are of course welcome, we are hopeful that this will be understood as a starting baseline from which future levy arrangements will build, in order to make sure our treatment and prevention systems are fully resourced to address the impact of gambling-related harms.”
Read the announcement here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-support-for-nhs-to-treat-gambling-addiction
Download the open consultation on NICE guidelines for identification, assessment and management of gambling harms: Harmful gambling: identification, assessment and management (nice.org.uk)