The governances of bet365, William Hill Plc, Flutter Entertainment, Sky Bet and GVC Holdings have pledged to the UK government that they will commit to increasing ‘voluntary contributions to 1% of gross-gaming-yield revenues’ – helping raise funds for UK problem gambling addiction, treatment and research initiatives.
This morning the BBC reports that the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has received a joint letter from the UK’s ‘five biggest gambling firms’ outlining their plans to increase voluntary contributions for a period of five years.
“We are committing to collaborate to address gambling-related harm with the priority of protecting the young and vulnerable,” reads a BBC extract of the communication sent to DCMS Secretary Jeremy Wright by the UK betting operators.
The betting firms’ pledge to increase voluntary contributions comes as UK health and regulatory stakeholders push industry leaders to raise annual funding on problem gambling to £100 million per year.
UK betting leadership was criticised by politicians and the media, as 2018 voluntary levy contributions totalled £10 million – a figure significantly below UK Gambling Commission expectations needed to support UK health networks.
The betting groups will undertake their funding commitments as they prepare to implement their voluntary “whistle to whistle” ban on advertising during all sports broadcasts starting this August.
Responding to the betting firms commitment, Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State at the DCMS, said:
“I want the gambling industry to step up on social responsibility and keep their players safe, including through making more funding available for research, education and treatment to tackle problem gambling.
“I have met the major players in the sector recently and my department is in discussions with them on a strong package to increase their financial contribution, as well as make meaningful commitments on other measures to help ensure people gamble safely.
“Protecting people and their families from the risks of gambling-related harm is a priority for this government and I am encouraged that the sector now recognises that they need to do more.”
Yesterday, Labour Deputy leader Tom Watson addressed an audience at thinktank DEMOs, stating that the UK needed to change its culture with regards to tackling problem gambling.
Watson, who has pushed for a compulsory 1% gross-gaming-yield levy, stated that an industry mandatory charge should be supported with wholesale changes to UK gambling laws and regulatory bodies, improving processes for how funds are audited and distributed to national health counterparts.