An NHS clinic has opened in Sunderland to treat those who have problems with gambling addiction.

The clinic – run by the Northern Gambling Service and financed by the NHS and the charity GambleAware – will offer free treatment to gamblers as well as giving support to gamblers and their families.

The treatment will also involve helping those with additional mental health issues, which can interact with a gambling addiction in complex ways.

A similar facility is already up-and-running in Leeds.

Problems connected to gambling seem widespread in the UK. An NHS study recently discovered that around 2.4 million people have some sort of issue with gambling, putting them at risk of developing a serious addiction.

About 265,000 individuals are thought to have high-risk gambling problems, but only around 3% of those struggling with – or at risk of – gambling addiction are receiving treatment or support.

Sunderland is not thought to be worse affected by gambling than other parts of the north east, but the clinic is opening on Wearside because it is considered to be a convenient location with suitable transport links.

Matthew Gaskill, a consultant psychologist with the NHS Northern Gambling Service, said, “I’m delighted to be opening our new base in Sunderland.”

“Gambling addiction is a new public health crisis.”

“It’s causing serious harm to thousands of people, including mental health problems, serious debt, breakdown of relationships, loss of employment, crime, homelessness and sometimes suicide.”

“However, the chances of recovery from addictions like problem gambling can be very good with proper treatment.”

Steve Ramsey, whose gambling addiction once cost him thousands of pounds every day and even resulted in him going to jail for fraud, said, “The addiction preyed on my poorest character traits making it so easy not to deal with anything and forget about any problems and just continue to gamble.”

“If I’d been able to use an NHS gambling clinic or been aware of one, it would have made a big difference to me.”

The gambling clinic is based at the Beacon of Light, next to the Stadium of Light.

For more information about the Northern Gambling Service, please visit

People can self-refer for the clinic by emailing or telephoning 0300 300 1490.

(Featured image courtesy of Matthew Powell, from Flickr Creative Commons)

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