New Paper Calls for Statutory Levy to Fund Gambling Addiction Programs

Senior clinicians in the UK’s National Health Service are calling for the gambling industry to have a new multi-million pound statutory levy imposed on it in order to fund the prevention and treatment of gambling addiction.

The director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones, and Dr Matt Gaskell, the clinical lead for the NHS Northern Gambling Service, are leading the campaign to create an independent health board that would then oversee the levy.

The plans were announced in a paper for the think tank Social Market Foundation. They are also suggesting that the board should be run by the Department of Health and not the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.

The current voluntary system has no integration of NHS services, no consistency in funding decisions, no independent evaluation of long-term impact or regulation via the Care Quality Commission, no coordinated oversight from research councils over research into harm, and serious questions have been asked about the independence of this voluntary system from the influence of the gambling industry. Furthermore, decisions about the funding of healthcare services are not overseen by experts at the Department of Health and Social Care, as would be expected, but rather officials at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.

Social Market Foundation Paper

The paper proposes a statutory levy to be paid from the industry’s revenue. It would go towards the goal of halving gambling-related harm over five years. The board, led by the Department of Health and Social Care, would consult with academics, clinicians, independent service providers, research councils, the Gambling Commission and its advisory board, and stakeholders from the DCMS and the Department for Education.

Dr James Noyes, a Senior Fellow at the SMF and co-author of the paper, said that despite a House of Lords Select Committee calling for a statutory levy two years ago, there had been no progress. He said that “the current system is broken, and lacks consistency, transparency, and accountability.”

Dr Noyes added, “The Gambling Act review white paper is a unique opportunity to fix this broken system and put harm prevention and treatment where it belongs: under the leadership of the Department of Health and Social Care, funded through a proper statutory framework.”