Tackle Gambling Addiction

The UK government is taking bold steps to address the growing concern of gambling addiction. A proposed mandatory levy on online gambling operators could raise up to £100 million annually to fund research, education, and treatment (RET) of gambling addiction. While a voluntary levy currently exists, the government believes that more must be done to support those affected by addiction. The consultation period for this proposal runs until December 14th, and if implemented, the levy would be paid by operators to the Gambling Commission.

The Proposed Levy

The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) suggests a mandatory levy of up to 1% on the gross gambling yield for online gambling operators. In comparison, traditional betting shops and casinos would pay a lower fee, approximately 0.4%. The goal is to ensure that all operators contribute fairly to the efforts aimed at addressing gambling addiction. Currently, some operators are paying as little as one pound towards RET initiatives. The consultation seeks to determine the levy rates for different operators by considering factors such as operating costs and the level of harm associated with various forms of gambling.

Support for the Levy

The UK gambling industry body Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) supports the proposed levy. However, they advocate for its expansion to include all operators, including the National Lottery. This extended coverage could further strengthen the resources dedicated to combating gambling addiction.

The Impact on the Gambling Industry

Should this levy come into effect, gambling operators will not have a say in how the funds are spent. The Gambling Commission will directly allocate the funding to the National Health Service (NHS) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). This approach ensures that the money is directed to the most essential areas, namely treatment, support, and research. The funds are expected to bring significant new investment to the NHS in England, Scotland, and Wales. It will also increase accessibility to treatment and support for those grappling with gambling-related harm.

The proposed funding will enable the development of a national prevention approach and finance independent, high-quality research that can inform policy and practice. This holistic approach aims to create a more robust foundation for tackling gambling addiction.

Supporting Those in Need

The government’s commitment to addressing gambling addiction extends beyond the levy proposal. In July, the NHS announced the opening of seven new gambling addiction clinics across England, in addition to the existing clinics in various cities. These clinics are crucial for providing accessible and specialized support to individuals struggling with addiction. Moreover, a national clinic has been established to focus on gambling and gaming addiction in children and young people, emphasizing the government’s concern for the younger generation.

The Bigger Picture

The proposed mandatory levy signifies the UK government’s dedication to safeguarding its citizens from the consequences of gambling addiction. This initiative, along with the establishment of new clinics and potential stake limits on online gambling, illustrates a comprehensive strategy to tackle the issue at its core.

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