Levy warning for gambling companies
The UK minister for sport and civil society has warned gambling companies may be hit with a levy if the industry doesn’t do enough to minimise gambling-related harm.
Mims Davies warned attendees at the GambleAware conference held in London that the government would take “tough measures” if the gambling industry didn’t do enough to reduce the harm caused by gambling-related activities. Davies called on companies offering gambling services to strike the right balance between freedom and protection.
The Minister said that the recent review by the Gambling Commission on gaming machines and social responsibility that was published in March didn’t signify the end of the government’s review of the industry. Davies then went on to warn that a mandatory levy could be imposed if responsibilities are not met.
Davies is new to the role of Minister for Sport and Civil Society, appointed on the 7th of November. She replaced Tracey Crouch, who quit the role over the government’s decision to delay a cap on the maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals. That decision was later reversed in an embarrassing U-turn for Theresa May’s government.
Speaking at the 6th edition of the conference, she shared her early reflections on the sector and also the challenges that the gambling industry faced. She said that while they had no intention of stopping people having fun, the only businesses that would be allowed to operate are the ones that take social responsibility seriously. Davies said operators are in a unique position to “deliver rapid interventions” and called for an environment in which consumers could ask for help and feel supported.
The MP said that the Gambling Commission will continue to take a firm stance on social responsibility, and warned the industry that she had little interest in the bottom line of a company, but was passionate about public safety. Davies said:
We should focus on prevention as well as the cure, profits are not my major concern, reducing harm is my concern. – Mims Davies, Eastleigh MP
Talking on the subject of the tax increase that gambling companies will be hit with in April, the minister said she welcomed the increase from 15% to 21%. She also agreed with the decision to reduce the maximum stakes on FOBT’s to £2 but warned that there is a danger that “risky gambling behaviour” could be hidden online.
Davies is the MP for Eastleigh in Hampshire and was previously a minister in the Wales office and a government whip. The 43-year-old only joined parliament in 2015. She has sat on both the Women and Equalities Committee, and the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills in parliament and her remit includes the Office of Civil Society, gambling, sport, and the National Lottery.