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Labour to call for gambling firms to contribute to addiction treatment

Gambling operators could be made to pay a compulsory levy to fund the treatment of problem gamblers under new plans set to be announced by Labour on Tuesday.
The party’s deputy leader Tom Watson will reportedly use his speech to the Labour conference in Brighton to unveil the policy.
Watson, who is also shadow culture secretary, is expected to tell delegates that some gambling companies are “deliberately targeting our poorest communities even as hundreds of thousands of lives are ruined by addiction”.
A review of gambling policy carried out by Labour “will assess the feasibility of making the gambling industry pay a compulsory levy to fund National Health Service treatment and help lift problem gamblers out of the destructive cycle of addiction”.
Problem gambling charity GambleAware brought in a record £8 million in 2016-17 from voluntary donations from the industry but that was still 20 per cent short of their target.
They have been calling for operators to donate 10p from every £100 of their profit to fund their work.
However, sports minister Tracey Crouch revealed in the House of Commons recently that one firm had sent GambleAware a cheque for just 1p as part of its contribution.
Reacting to the news, GambleAware said in a statement on Twitter: “We welcome the increased focus on the harm gambling can cause to addicts and their loved ones.
“Gambling addiction is a recognised mental health condition, but treatment is not available on the NHS. We are woefully short of the funding needed to treat all problem gamblers in the country.
“We need the support of GPs, social workers, citizens advice and teachers before we can even come close to treating all those in need.”
The Labour Party is also demanding that the maximum stake on gaming machines be reduced to £2 from £100, while Watson recently called for gambling advertising to be banned on football shirts.

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