The government has no idea how many problem gamblers are being treated by the NHS or how much their addiction is costing, prompting concern from leading charities that people in need of help are slipping through the net.
The Department of Health also conceded, in response to questions from the Labour deputy leader, Tom Watson, that the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and the culture secretary, Karen Bradley, had never discussed the issue.
Watson said: “We know there is a growing epidemic of gambling addiction, so it’s shocking that the government has no idea how many people are receiving treatment, or how much it’s costing. It’s time we started seeing gambling addiction as a mental health problem, not a moral failing, and made sure that proper NHS provision is in place for it.”
The Home Office told Watson that it did not carry any information about the effect that gambling addiction has on “acquisitive” crimes, such as burglary or theft.
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