A new service for those harmed by gambling across South Cumbria has been unveiled.

Led by Dr Matt Gaskell, the North West Gambling Service (NWGS) aims to address the severe consequences of gambling, which he warns can often lead to death.

The NWGS covers a large area, from Blackpool and the Wyre north to Carlisle, offering treatment for gambling problems as well as for associated mental and physical health conditions.

The service will be available for patients within a two to four-week window and refer them directly to the NHS.

Mr Gaskell, a consultant psychologist, highlighted that gambling addiction does not discriminate but impacts all across society.

He explained how football is a significant contributor to the rising number of addiction cases: "Our clinics have many football fans."

Furthermore, increasing numbers of women are affected due to targeted advertising and marketing, especially promoting highly addictive slot machine gambling.

Mr Gaskell said: "Between 25 and 30 per cent of our service users are women, and I see this number continuing to rise, unfortunately.

"The industry, which spends £1.5bn a year on advertising, has designed a perfect storm for addiction and its business model appears to be reliant on those harmed and experiencing addiction.

"The NHS is picking up the tab of the online betting industry with evidence showing gamblers are significantly more likely to attempt suicide.”

The Westmorland Gazette: The service will be available for patients within a two to four-week window and refer them directly

Recent data from the Gambling Commission reports that the UK gambling industry is worth an estimated £15.1 billion, and around 44 per cent of the adult population are involved in gambling activities.

Dr Gaskell added: "We are mass advertising and marketing an addictive product which could ensnare anyone at a given time.

"The source of the harm is the industry, its products and thirst for profit over the wellbeing of its customers".

The recently launched clinic reflects a wider scheme under the NHS Long Term Plan that aims to establish 15 NHS gambling clinics across England by 2024.

The Cumbrian clinic’s team includes psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, and mental health nurses, along with individuals who have personally recovered from gambling addiction.