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"Polluters must pay" for gambling harms

8 June 2022
Carolyn Harris MP

The "polluters must pay" when it comes to the costs of gambling harms, an MP has said, during a spirited debate on betting reforms.

During a Westminster Hall debate on Monday, Labour MP Carolyn Harris argued for a statutory Levy on betting companies, to raise money for addiction research. Ms Harris stressed that companies are not paying their fair share, especially given the harm their product is causing.

CARE's James Mildred Speaks to BBC Humberside on gambling reforms

Gambling companies in the UK are required to make a voluntary contribution to services that help problem gamblers. However, companies generally submit a paltry amount, around 0.2 per cent of gross gambling yield. Campaigners want a mandatory 1 per cent levy.

The UK Government has indicated that it supports the idea of a levy in past statements, as well as other measures to curb problem gambling, but it distanced itself from the idea last week in a leak to the Daily Mail.

The government has pledged to bring forward a series of proposals to modernise Britain's gambling laws and bring better regulation of big betting. A whitepaper is expected this month, after a series of delays.

In a statement earlier this week, CARE's CEO Ross Hendry urged Ministers to row in behind a statutory levy, which CARE has lobbied for in the last two years, and said MPs must "hold the government's feet to the fire" to ensure coming reforms are fit for purpose:

"By retreating from sorely-needed reforms like a statutory levy on companies to fund research into addiction, Ministers will fail in their duty of care towards vulnerable gamblers, who have suffered significant harm.

"CARE and other organisations have long warned that gambling laws in the UK are simply not fit for purpose. Gambling addiction has grown exponentially in recent years. There are thought to be around 400,000 addicts in the UK, including 55,000 children.

"Gambling related harm has a huge impact of peoples lives, resulting in debt, depression, alcoholism, homelessness and even suicide. On average, one person commits suicide every single day as a result of gambling harm. Yet legislation remains out-of-date, and regulation remains lax.

“We call on MPs in all parties to hold the government’s feet to the fire on gambling reforms. We need a new, evidence-led, public health approach that makes the industry truly accountable. Action is many years overdue.”
Ross Hendry CEO of CARE

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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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