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There have been growing concerns that online gaming sites and targeted advertisements have been fueling the rise of problem gambling among young people in the United Kingdom. A number of initiatives have been launched in the recent past to address the issue and tackle the problem with one of the latest being plans by the National Health Service (NHS) to open a gambling clinic for children. Meant to cater for people between the ages of 13 and 25, the dedicated gambling addiction center will be referred to as the National Gambling Clinic and it will be the very first of its kind in London as well as in the entire country.

Now, for such an initiative to be as big of a deal as it is, there has to be a significantly huge problem that needs to be tackled as fast and as soon as humanly possible. Well, there is. A recent study conducted by the UK Gambling Commission revealed that there are 55,000 children aged between 11 and 16 years that are currently classified as problem gamblers. The gaming regulator further found that at about 450,000 young people participate in gambling activities on a regular basis – this figure is pretty terrifying especially because it is significantly higher than the number of young people that indulge in alcohol or drugs.

According to Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS England, the move to open a gambling addiction clinic in England is expected to be gamechanger in the field of gambling in the United Kingdom. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the country that are currently dealing with serious problem gambling and had this been addressed when they were younger, the situation perhaps would not have been as dire as it currently is.

“The links between problem gambling and stress, depression and mental health problems are growing and there are too many stories of lives lost and families destroyed,” he said.

Betting Firms to Be Taxed

The NHS’ plans for a gambling clinic has been welcomed by a number of people including Carolyn Harris, the Labour MP for Swansea East. She pointed out that the gambling industry has for long ignored or dismissed the issue of problem gambling and that the National Health Services’ initiative would be to ensure that the “polluters” pay.

“This move to help young people afflicted with this problem is welcome. But the industry really needs to be chastised for their open and blatant exploitation of gambling addicts of all ages,” Carolyn Harris commented.

A such, there is a possibility that the betting firms could be taxed in order to pay for addiction treatment as more of the clinics continue to be rolled out. The recently announced clinic for young people will be a part of the new network of services for addicts that are currently being rolled out as part of the body’s Long-Term Plan.