SBC News Stuart Andrew: DCMS to guarantee a transparent and effective RET Levy

Stuart Andrew: DCMS to guarantee a transparent and effective RET Levy

DCMS Under-Secretary Stuart Andrew has stated that the Gambling Review’s White Paper carries the “clearest mandate to strengthen protections against gambling-related harms.”

The statement was made at a Parliamentary Forum hosted by Gambling with Lives (GWL), the charity and industry reform organisation supporting families bereaved by gambling suicides.

Opening his address, Andrew thanked GWL co-founders Liz and Charles Ritchie for their dedication to raising awareness of the devastating consequences of gambling harms.

“I was pleased to be joined by Liz and Charles on the BBC sofas on the day of our announcement, where we had an important discussion on the need to further prevent gambling-related harm.”

“However, we have always been clear that there is no single reform which will work on its own, and gambling harm is not just about individuals. It has to be seen as an interaction between the person, the products, the providers, and the place where people gamble.”

Following the publication of the Gambling Review, its proceeding White Paper has taken “an evidence-led approach to implement a package of reforms targeted at different levels.”

As such, DCMS stands by the White Paper’s recommendation to implement broader preventative protections, such as £2 and £5 staking limits on online slots and financial risk checks that will be imminently tested by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

Yet the complexities of reducing and preventing gambling harms require a more strategic and nuanced approach, beyond the White Paper’s technical measures, in which a restructured Safer Gambling Levy represents a “step change for the sector.”

DCMS understands the significance of the Levy’s new structure for industry reformists such as GWL – “I know all of you are particularly invested in the levy consultation, and ensuring that we introduce a system that builds a holistic approach to investment, commissioning, and evaluation.”

“I am invested in the meaningful opportunities the levy presents. I recognize that funding is not the only requirement for an equitable and effective system, but increased investment is crucial.

For the first time, the levy will ensure ring-fenced, trusted, and sustainable funding for research to fill gaps in the evidence on gambling and gambling harm and inform policy and regulation.”

Following the implementation of technical measures, the structure of the mandatory levy to fund problem gambling research, education, and treatment (RET) projects takes center stage. DCMS recognizes the need for increased investment in treatment services, with fewer than 5% currently receiving treatment – “significantly lower than for alcohol issues, where around 18% of dependent drinkers are in treatment.”

A reorganised levy will be supported by an NHS-led integrated and comprehensive treatment system across Great Britain, aimed at enhancing referral pathways for individuals experiencing gambling-related harm.

The NHS is detailed as the best steward of the levy, providing a strong emphasis on prevention and recognizing its pivotal role in raising awareness of gambling-related harms and fostering trust in support services.

Andrew concluded: “The suite of regulatory protections we are implementing are aimed at preventing harm before it occurs or earlier in the journey. However, the statutory levy represents a doubling of efforts in this area. Targeted investment in coordinated prevention activity on the ground, at local, regional, and national levels is an unprecedented move.”

“I am committed to this agenda and have full confidence in the significant steps forward we are taking as a country to reduce gambling harms.”

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