The head of mental health services in England has written to five large gaming companies, demanding urgent measures to address gambling addiction and its impact on people’s health.
Claire Murdoch said incentives such as free bets and tickets should be banned to stop the “vicious circle of the game.”
The industry said it was determined to make the game safer.
Credit card bets will be banned from April 14, and the regulator is investigating the “bet to see” schemes.
In his letter to the executive directors of William Hill, BetFred, bet365, GVC and Flutter, Murdoch said he was concerned that troubled players would be attacked.
“I worry that offering people who are losing large sums of money … free tickets, VIP experiences and free bets, all that makes people return to the vicious circle of the game that many want to escape.”
As a nurse with more than 30 years of experience, Ms. Murdoch said she had “seen firsthand the devastating impact on the mental well-being of addiction.”
“The gaming industry has a responsibility to prevent occasional fluttering from becoming a dangerous habit,” he added.
In particular, Ms. Murdoch criticized the practice of offering players with additional incentive problems to encourage them to spend more money.
And he said that betting companies should stop broadcasting live matches, to prevent people from accumulating debts that they cannot pay.
The “Bet to view” broadcast is accused of turning fans into players by placing a bet to watch sports matches, and the Gaming Commission is investigating an agreement to show FA Cup ties through seven betting sites .
“The links between the sports industry and the game are deeply disturbing, and the tactics used by some companies are embarrassing,” Murdoch added.
“It is time for sports organizations to return to their roots and begin to focus on fans and families who enjoy watching their heroes play, instead of allowing companies to take over the sport in search of profits.”
Twenty-seven of the 44 football clubs in the two main divisions of England are currently sponsored by a gambling company.
The Betting and Games Council, which represents betting shops, online gaming businesses and casinos, said it assumed its responsibility with customers “incredibly seriously” and was determined to make gambling safer.
He said he had already introduced new age verification checks and a ban on gambling advertising during games.
The organization said it was happy to meet Mrs. Murdoch to discuss her concerns.
A total of 14 NHS clinics have been planned to treat gambling addiction in England, and the first in London also offers help for children from the age of 13.
This is in response to approximately 430,000 people who have a serious betting problem.
The GamCare charity, which provides support to troubled players and their families, said more people were calling their helpline and more were receiving treatment, a 9% increase to 9,049 in 2018-19.
Online gambling, including betting, casino games and slots, was a problem for more than half of those who called their helpline.