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Gambling firms offer more money to tackle problem gambling – but is it enough?

19 June 2019

Some of the UK’s biggest gambling firms have offered to increase the amount of money they donate to help tackle problem gambling.

William Hill, Coral Ladbroke, Betfair Paddy Power, Skybet and Bet 365 are preparing to increase the voluntary levy from 0.1% to 1% over the next five years.

In theory this will eventually mean an extra £100m per year for work to deal with problem gambling.

Last year, the gambling industry missed its target under the voluntary levy deal. It raised just under its target of £10m. In the same period, the gambling industry made £14bn.

MPs from across the House of Commons have called for a new mandatory levy to be placed on gambling firms, so they are required to donate more funding for research and treatment. In April, the Gambling Commission also called for a mandatory levy to be applied.

Gambling industry is running scared

Today, CARE welcomed the increase but warned the industry was ‘running scared’ and was clearly trying to avoid a mandatory levy.

Communications Manager James Mildred said: “Credit where credit is due, and the gambling industry is at least recognising it needs to do more to tackle problem gambling.

“That said, I think it’s obvious the gambling industry is running scared and they are obviously very worried about the prospect of a mandatory levy being applied to ensure they have to give more of their considerable profits to gambling charities.

“So, while we welcome this move to provide more money, we still don’t think it is good enough given the scale of problem gambling in our communities.”

Why a mandatory levy?

Current estimates suggest there are 340,000 problem gamblers across the UK, with 2 million more said to be at risk.

There is a serious shortage when it comes to treatment for problem gambling, with only once specialist clinic in London, although a second one is due to open in Leeds.

A mandatory levy would mean a guarantee of more funding for research into problem gambling and treatment services could be expanded as well.

Such a move would also be very popular and our research showed that 66 per cent of men in the UK were unhappy with the existing voluntary levy arrangement and would like to see it increased and become compulsory.

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While for some, gambling is just harmless fun, for a significant minority it causes genuine devastation. Our vision is to see laws passed that will help protect vulnerable problem gamblers.

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