Biggest names in industry respond to Levy commitment

Five of the industry’s biggest names have shed light on recent revelations that there would be a collaborative effort in improving problem gambling initiatives by boosting levy contributions from 0.1 per cent to 1 per cent over the next five years.

Reported by the BBC yesterday, CEOs from Bet365, Flutter Entertainment, GVC Holdings, Sky Betting & Gaming and William Hill have committed ti increasing ‘voluntary contributions’, and have confirmed since that they will be taking part in a consultation with the UK Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

A spokesperson on behalf of the five CEOs commented:“We have engaged constructively with the DCMS Secretary of State on safer gambling measures including an increase in voluntary funding for research, education and treatment.

“We will continue to engage on the issues and will consult with all relevant stakeholders on this to understand how best to achieve our shared aim of minimising the impact of gambling-related harm. In addition, we have been working with a broader number of operators on measures to minimise gambling related harm and will comment on them in due course.”

The process of the consultation will be seeking to encourage industry stakeholders to develop a long-term, ‘costed plan’ by the end of 2019, which will address any future strategies to raising funds for the treatment of problem gambling.

UK betting firms have been criticised heavily by Deputy Labour leader, Tom Watson yesterday during his speech at cross-party thinkthank, Demos. The increase in levy funds does not demonstrate a commitment to curbing problem gambling, however, it will act as an addition to the imminent voluntary “whistle to whistle” ban on gambling advertising that the industry has agreed to, which is due to start this August.

Despite the pledge by the industry, to ramp up the donations for problem gambling this way, it has been estimated to bring in anything between £60m – £117m annually, which has left some campaigners and researchers unsatisfied.

A blog by Regulus Partners, published before the news broke on increased donations, it warned about the lack of discussion there has been surrounding the branding of problem gambling as a ‘public health matter’ and has suggested that the industry also promotes the benefits that gambling provides to society.

It commented: “The fact that companies are investing significant resource in harm reduction is obviously a big step forward; but this alone is insufficient to meet the threat. There is likely to be no level of harm reduction that will appease their opponents (as demonstrated by curmudgeonly responses to pretty much anything good that operators do). It is critical therefore that operators do more to understand and articulate the benefits of gambling – and that they allow the voice of the customer to be heard.”

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