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NHS Doubling Number of Gambling Clinics

Faced with a skyrocketing number of referrals for gambling addicts, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is doubling the number of clinics it uses to treat the problem. NHS officials say they’re dealing with more problem gamblers than ever, thanks to the ubiquitous nature of online gambling via mobile devices.

According to a recently posted blog by the NHS, cases of problem gambling are growing at a rapid clip in the UK. The government agency has already referred 1,400 problem gamblers to clinics this year, an increase of nearly 33 percent over last year’s. NHS officials also point out that problem gambling referrals are up four fifths from two years ago.

Currently, there are eight clinics taking problem gamblers in London, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Telford, and two in London. The new clinics will be opened in Milton Keynes, Thurrock, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Blackpool, and Sheffield later this year.

NHS chief executive, Amanda Pritchard pointed to the changing nature of gambling in the UK as one of the reasons for the clinic boom. “In 1948 when the NHS was founded, you had to go to a bookies to place a bet, but now people can gamble on their phone at the touch of a button and everyone, young and old, is bombarded with adverts encouraging them to take part. Record numbers of people are coming to the NHS for help to treat their gambling addiction, a cruel disease which has the power to destroy people’s lives, with referrals up by more than a third compared to last year,” she said in a recent NHS press release

Between all 15 clinics, the NHS says it should be able to help around 3,000 problem gamblers a year.