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Addressing the ever-present problem of addictive gamblers, Richard Flint of Sky Bet proposed an interesting idea last week. According to him, more gambling addiction centres should open in the UK.

He said this to the BBC press while UKGC is pressed to stack a new levy on the gambling firms' shoulders. The gambling operators would have to support problem gambling prevention, treatment and research this way.

Flint is an influential persona in the UK’s gambling world, especially online. So, his words might actually affect the outcome. But is his proposed solution to build more treatment centres the best way to deal with this?

People Think Otherwise

Gambling with Lives, a charity for people who attempted or committed suicide due to gambling, thinks otherwise. They don’t mind the idea itself it seems, but they’re calling Flint’s comment as hypocritical and even insulting.

It would make sense that people whose relatives have suffered from gambling wouldn’t trust online casino representatives. However, there’s another thing that throws shade on Flint and his company.

“Insulted by What Mr Flint Has Said“

If you’ve been following gambling news in the past year, you might have heard about this. In 2018, Sky Bet was fined £1 million because they failed to protect vulnerable punters.

Besides, Flint has been leading one of the most successful companies in the industry for over a decade. That is a reason in itself for some people not to trust his comments.

Photo of Richard Flint CEO Sky Bet
Richard Flint

The fact that he himself has admitted the industry’s problems gives him credit too. The CEO has said that casino and bookmaker firms are responsible because they have been encouraging people to bet more than what they can afford.

Regardless, one of the founders of Gambling with Lives responded to his comments saying:

“I feel insulted by what Mr Flint has said, it minimises the damage the industry has done to people's lives.”

Flint Has His Own Reasons?

The offer to focus the resources on gambling addiction treatment seems to be the common ground between casinos and players. This way, the gambling firms won’t be losing their customers and the problems that gamblers face can be better controlled.

That’s what Flint seems to be thinking, anyway, because people who have suffered don’t seem to agree. The founders of the charity have expressed this clearly:

“We have gambling companies saying they want to put money into treating gambling addiction, but they don't want to put money into gambling prevention.“

Of course, preventing gambling altogether would directly oppose the goals of these companies. Thus, a different kind of solution is needed instead.

Could more gambling addiction research institutes and treatment centres be part of a solution, though?

Are More Treatment Centres Needed?

The popular belief, based on various gambling data and polls, is that problem gambling is a significant issue in the country. Over 300,000 people in the UK are problem gamblers (over 400,000 according to other sources). Even more are potentially at risk to develop such a condition too.

Casino slot machines hall from above

Opening more institutions to treat these people could help improve the situation. Indeed, one is already planned to open its doors this summer in Leeds.

Yet it would only be effective as part of a wider strategy. The centres for helping people who are already addicted shouldn’t be the main focus of this strategy, either.

An Alternative Solution

Instead, better results could be achieved if the efforts were focused on causes rather than effects. For example, if education was a primary goal, people could continue gambling but learn to do it more responsibly.

In the end, such a solution should make everyone more or less happy.

What’s more, some other top companies in the online gambling sector are already showing an example. They are funding projects to research and prevent addictive gambling behaviour as well as treat it.

So, while new treatment centres would help society immensely, Flint’s offer isn’t enough to tackle the problem efficiently.

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