THE NUMBER of emergency hospital admissions linked to gambling addiction has hit a record high, figures show.
Cases have doubled in six years, with the NHS facing a “rising tide” of gambling-related illnesses, including psychosis.
NHS chiefs warn Brits are being egged-on by “shameless” bookmakers, with punters risking their health and money.
Gambling-related hospital admissions in England have more than doubled from 150 in 2012/13 to 321 in 2018/19.
Cases of pathological gambling, where people turn to crime to fund their addiction, increased by a third in the last 12 months.
There were 98 cases in 2016/17, 132 in 2017/18 and 171 in 2018/19, figures from NHS Digital show.
The first ever gambling clinic aimed at young people opened earlier this year.
And the NHS has committed to opening 14 new problem gambling clinics by 2023/24.
Claire Murdoch, National Mental Health Director for the NHS said: “Our NHS is fighting back against a rising tide of gambling related ill health as more people than ever before are being egged-on by shameless gambling firms not just to take a chance with their money, but with their health too.
“While the NHS will always be there for people – adapting, improving and increasing different and new treatments as our patients need them as part of our Long Term Plan – the gambling industry, which takes upward of £14bn a year from punters, must take the blame for this increase and ensure a fair amount of its profits help its customers who may suffer from addiction.”
INTENSE DESIRE TO GAMBLE
A person affected by gambling-related harm addiction has an intense desire to bet that interferes with their day-to-day lives.
The NHS estimates that over 400,000 people in England have an addiction to gambling and two million people are at risk of developing the condition.
There has also been an increase in the number of young people that are affected by gambling-related harm.
There were 46 hospital attendances for gambling-related addiction by people aged under 25 last year, with the youngest aged 15.
This compares with 37 people under 25 receiving treatment the year before – an increase of a quarter.
NHS Digital data published earlier this month found that more than half of people living in Britain gamble.
Research has shown betting firms spent an estimated £1.5billion in 2017 on advertising.
And a report in the British Medical Journal called for the introduction of a mandatory tax on the industry to fund and prioritise treatment.
Bookmakers are currently encouraged by the Gambling Commission to donate a combined £10million to charities which help victims of gambling addictions.
This is just 0.07 per cent of what gambling companies currently receive from punters.