Outgoing Sky Boss Richard Flint claims gambling industry isn’t doing enough to protect problem gamblers and has called for more addiction treatment centres.
Richard Flint, outgoing executive chairman of Sky Bet, has suggested that the gambling industry isn’t doing enough to protect problem gamblers and that more funding should be directed at treatment centres.
In an interview with BBC News, Flint also admitted that companies within the gambling sector had in the past encouraged people to spend beyond their means.
With less than a month left of his tenure at Sky Bet, Flint called for the industry to ‘consider funding a network of gambling treatment centres.’
Said Flint, ‘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.’
According to the Gambling Commission, some 400,000 adults in the UK are struggling with gambling addiction. To help address the problem, the NHS has already opened a gambling addiction treatment centre in London, with another one expected to be launched in the next few months.
Flint’s comments come at a time when significant pressure is being put on the UK Gambling Commission to implement a ‘wellness levy’ on licensed operators. If introduced, the industry would be required to pay for the development of gambling prevention in the UK which would include the creation of treatment and research networks.
In 2018, Richard Flint unveiled a social responsibility programme for bookmakers known as the ‘four-point plan’ which offered guidance on gambling related harm. It was the first of its kind to be launched by a UK betting company.
Nevertheless, the charity ‘Gambling with Lives’ described Mr Flint’s comments as ‘insulting’. Speaking to Gambling Insider, founder member Charles Richie 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.’
Flint departs Sky Bet governance next month having played a key role in the company’s ascendency in the UK gambling market. And following its £3.4 billion acquisition by Canadian gambling behemoth, The Stars Group, Sky Bet is now one of the largest online betting and gaming operations in the world.
In 2018, Flint was named the UK’s top CEO at the Employees’ Choice Awards by Glassdoor for his leadership at Sky Bet.