GambleAware has repeated its calls for the introduction of a mandatory levy to support gambling harm prevention and treatment, ahead of the publication of the Gambling Act review White Paper.
The problem gambling prevention organisation has argued for a levy of 1% as a licensing condition for betting firms wishing to operate in the UK, something which the group claims could raise up to £140 million annually.
As a result of the cost-of-living crisis cooped with the financial constraints of the ongoing pandemic, GambleAware has pointed to ‘an increased risk of people experiencing gambling-related harms’, coupled with the wider availability of online betting.
Many betting firms currently offer voluntary contributions – GambleAware publishes its list of operator donations each year – a total of £16 million was donated during the third quarter of the 2021/22 financial year – but the charity asserts that a mandatory levy would ‘enable better longer-term planning and commissioning for services to prevent gambling harms’.
Zoë Osmond, Chief Executive Officer at GambleAware, said: “The ongoing impact of the pandemic, a growing cost-of-living crisis and shift to online gambling means there is a potential increased risk of people experiencing gambling harms that remains unseen until an individual reaches a crisis point.
“Without action now, many more people and families could suffer. That’s why we are calling on the government to introduce a mandatory, 1% levy of GGY on the gambling industry as a condition of licence. This could be delivered in a matter of months and could almost treble the amount of funding going to preventing and treating gambling harms.
“This could be delivered in a matter of months and could almost treble the amount of funding going to preventing and treating gambling harms.”
Calls for a levy have been echoed by other advocates of gambling law reform, as the UK government moves ahead with the largest overhaul of British betting and gaming legislation since the passage of the 2005 Gambling Act.
Notably, legislators such as Lord Foster of Bath, Chair of Peers for Gambling Reform (PGR), have called for the introduction of a research, education and treatment (RET) levy as an ideal outcome of the review, in addition to other changes to regulation and business practice.
Further cost-of-living difficulties, GambleAware has also called for support to be delivered to those most at risk by reducing inequalities, as well as delivering tailored prevention and support to local needs and reaching the most deprived communities.
The charity has also urged for an “an agile, data-led, and innovation-driven approach to prevention and treatment”, adding that a ‘coalition of expertise is needed to deliver the broad spectrum of research, prevention and treatment locally and nationally’.
Finally, GambleAware’s final principle states that ‘investments in the gambling industry should be scrutinised through a health, environmental, social and governance lens in the same way as other harm-causing sectors’ in a bid to force long-term change.