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The Drum

NHS boss accuses Premier League gambling sponsors of ‘failing addicts’

NHS boss accuses Premier League gambling sponsors of ‘failing addicts’

The chief executive of the NHS has spoken out against overseas gambling companies which sponsor Premier League clubs, accusing the firms of shirking their responsibilities in regard to problem gamblers.

There are an estimated 430,000 gambling addicts in the UK, a pastime not only detrimental to financial health but also physical and emotional health according to health service boss Simon Stevens.

Addressing a conference in Manchester Stevens claimed that eight of nine clubs sponsored by a foreign betting firm had failed to make mandatory donations to a registered charity helping addicts, despite fears that their high-profile is fueling addiction.

Stevens said: "The NHS has opened its first mental health clinic aimed at gambling, and the Gambling Commission estimates there are 430,000 people with a gambling problem.

"This is at the same time as the voluntary contribution from the gambling industry has not been responded to by eight overseas firms who sponsor Premier League clubs, so we need to get onto the Premier League to make sure they contribute.”

The Gambling Commission requires bookmakers to donate a combined £10m every year from the £1.4bn in revenues generated by the industry.

During this year's World Cup ITV was accused of inundating viewers, many of them children, with betting ads.

There are currently nine clubs with a bookmaker as their shirt sponsor, including: Bournemouth (M88); Burnley (LaBa360); Crystal Palace (ManBetX); Everton (Sport Pesa); Fulham (DafaBet); Huddersfield Town (Ope Sports); Newcastle United (Fun88); West Ham (Betway) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (W88).