Government ignores UKGC’s calls for mandatory levy
The UK government has come under fire for not backing a UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) industry wide mandatory levy that would be used to fund treatment for gambling addicts.
Speaking last week at the launch of the Commission’s new national strategy, Bill Moyes, chairman of the UKGC, said that the levy would increase funding from the current £12m to at least £70m a year. The money would then be put towards research, education, and treatment around problem gambling.
However, sports minister Mims Davies replied with her view that the current system is working and that the levy is one of a number of options that would “remain on the table.” Speaking immediately after Moyes, Davies stated the government’s position that the current voluntary levy system is working, which was in direct contradiction to Moyes’ claims of the opposite just moments before.
The government’s stance has come under immediate attack from the opposition. Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour party, said:
It’s outrageous that this Tory government is ignoring its own statutory adviser’s call for a mandatory levy on gambling companies to fund support for problem gamblers. Both the regulator and the industry agree that the current levy system needs to change to increase the level of support, but true to form, this government is dragging its heels.– Tom Watson , Deputy leader Labour party
The move also came under attack from move the Scottish National Party and the Bishop of St Albans.
The government’s stance is an interesting one, at a time when both the regulator and industry and making strides towards a safer gambling environment and better protections from problem gambling.
Last week, the UKGC announced its new National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, which has brought together the biggest network of stakeholders to tackle problem gambling.
One of the industry’s biggest groups, GVC Holdings, also announced radical new policies last week. GVC CEO, Kenny Alexander, announced that the group would support a total ban on sports betting adverts as one of numerous measures to “do more to protect the vulnerable. GVC would go one further than the upcoming whistle-to-whistle advertising ban by banning all gambling adverts during live sports, except for horse racing.
GVC would also end all sponsorship deals with sporting clubs and stop advertising in stadiums and around pitches. GVC is currently the shirt sponsor of Sunderland and Charlton football clubs, as well as the sponsor of the Scottish Premiership. Lastly, GVC said it would donate 1% of revenue towards research, education and treatment projects for problem gambling. That is 10% more than the current voluntary level of 0.1%.