GAMBLING should be treated as a “major health issue”, like smoking, the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has said. He was speaking after figures were published which suggest that most people in England gambled last year.
The Health Survey for England 2018, published on Wednesday, showed that 53 per cent of people had gambled in 2018, including buying lottery tickets. More men gamble than women: 56 per cent of men against 49 per cent of women.
For the survey, 8178 adults (aged from 16) and 2072 children were interviewed in England.
Dr Smith said: “With almost half the country gambling, it looks as if this is becoming a major health issue, which requires a response akin to tackling smoking in the last century.
“No one should be allowed to suffer the torment that is gambling addiction, and it is important the industry wakes up to the public scandal their products are responsible for creating.”
While the number is falling — 68 per cent of men and 61 per cent of women said that they participated in a gambling activity in the 2012 equivalent survey — the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, warned that the problems have not gone away. “These new stats are a stark reminder of how common gambling is in our society, and how easy it is to become addicted, particularly with the aggressive push into online gambling.”
He continued: “Gambling-related harm is not something which impacts everyone who has placed a bet, but the significant minority of people who experience gambling-related harm and require medical help cost the NHS dearly at a time when the organisation is facing financial constraints. The gambling industry must bear the cost of this expense.”