Richard Flint The industry has not done enough to look after problem gamblers
Richard Flint, Sky Bet’s outgoing Executive Chairman, says the industry has not done enough to look after problem gamblers and had in the past encouraged people to spend beyond their means.
Flint, who is set to leave his role next month, said: "We need to do more to self-regulate, and if we don’t do more there will be more regulation forced upon us."
The Gambling Commission estimates around 400,000 adults in Great Britain alone are battling a gambling problem.
Sky Bet, which helped parent company Stars Group generate $580m in Q1 revenue, was fined £1m ($1.26m) in 2018 for failing to protect vulnerable customers.
The NHS has opened a dedicated gambling addiction treatment centre in London and another is expected to open in Leeds in the coming months.
Flint said: "I’ve been to a gambling addiction treatment centre and seen the devastation gambling addiction has caused people and their families.
"Leeds is opening a treatment centre this summer which is a great step forward, but I do think we need a bigger network of treatment centres going forward."
Charity Gambling With Lives described Flint’s comments as "insulting.” Gambling Insider reached out to the charity for further comment.
Charles Ritchie from Gambling With Lives said: "The families from Gambling with Lives who have lost sons to gambling related suicide feel industry reluctance to acknowledge the severity of harm is an insult to the memory of their loved ones. The description of 'perhaps encouraging people to spend beyond their means' ignores the serious damage to mental health leading to suicide.
"The reality is there are hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who have a deep and complex addiction, whose lives and relationships have been destroyed by gambling, many of whom feel suicidal, and hundreds who take their own lives each year."