The United Kingdom has witnessed a significant rise in the number of problem gamblers in the recent times. According to a report published by the Gambling Commission, more than 2 million people in the UK are addicted to problem gambling or are at a risk of developing an addiction. The report reckons that the number of ‘above-16’ problem gamblers has increased by a third in the last three years, indicating that nearly 430,000 people are victims of this serious addiction.
This certainly suggests that the government isn’t doing enough to tackle the issue. The pace of change has been slow, and the government needs to be more proactive in addressing the issues. The risk of men becoming problem gambler is 7.5 times more than women. In the light of such rising gambling addiction, the government has finally taken a significant step to address the problem of problem gambling.
U.K. Labour plan’s tax
U.K.’s opposition Labour Party has now decided to impose a compulsory tax on gambling companies for the treatment of gambling addicts. Gambling companies are failing to favor a system that calls for 0.1 percent of profits as voluntary contributions. This amount should be utilized in helping people who bet in an uncontrollable manner. The deputy leader of the party, Tom Watson, will tell delegates about this levy at its annual conference on Tuesday in Brighton, southern England.
Mr. Watson believes that “gambling addiction is an illness” and it’s time to take the issue seriously. The party’s review will also look into the ability of NHS to provide the required mental health services to problem gamblers who have become prey to this addiction. The Gambling Commission’s report defined gambling addiction as “gambling to a degree that compromises, disrupts or damages family, personal or recreational pursuits”.
The Association of British Bookmakers expressed that it supports an approach that is based on evidence, thus facilitating the idea of Mr. Watson. Labour also says that the extra sum will be required to boost the capacity and infrastructure of hospitals. Moreover, the NHS also requires funds to hire extra staff outside the agency and extend social care to patients.
The party has vowed to increase spending on the NHS by hiking income tax by 5% for people who earn the highest. A winter bailout is also proposed to be funded through this. Gambling companies target low-income people or those who have quit gambling because it proves profitable for them. The new tax proposes to stop this abuse of power and trust.