The leading gambling industry body in the UK, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has responded to problem gambling criticisms made by the National Health Service (NHS).

The NHS have asked gambling companies to step in and take immediate action. In a letter sent to the BGC by Claire Murdock, National Mental Health Director for NHS England, gambling operators have been asked to end credit card gambling ahead of the ban that will take effect on April 14. The NHS also want gambling firms to end VIP experiences and halt live sports streaming.

In her letter, Murdoch said that she was concerned about the offers made by gambling firms, which can include VIP experiences, free tickets and free bets, all of which can suck people back towards gambling activity when they are vulnerable:

 “The gambling industry has a responsibility to prevent the occasional flutter turning into a dangerous habit. The links between the sporting industry and gambling are deeply disturbing, and the tactics used by some firms are shameful.”

She also said that sporting organisations should play their part and turn their focus to the essentials of sport, rather than letting betting firms use sport for profit.

In their response, the BGC said that the entire industry was focused on raising standards. The Chair of the BGC, Brigid Simmonds OBE, said that the industry had brought forward a number of initiatives to limit the risks of problem gambling. These have included a new range of age and identity checks, additional funding for gambling addiction treatment and a voluntary whistle-to-whistle ban on advertising during live televised sports events.

Earlier this week, the UK Gambling Commission announced that credit card gambling will be illegal from April 14. But the calls for a voluntary pre-emptive restriction on credit card betting may strike a chord with the wider public and politicians.

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