Addressing the House of Commons this afternoon, Jeremy Wright – UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport – said that the government is still reviewing the option of introducing a ‘mandatory levy’ to help national health stakeholders raise funds and resources for tackling problem gambling harms.
Wright has acknowledged the ‘commitment of increased funding’ pledged this morning by leading UK betting operators bet365, William Hill, Sky Betting & Gaming, GVC Holdings and Flutter Entertainment.
“Today five of the biggest gambling companies have agreed on a series of measures which will deliver real and meaningful progress on support for problem gamblers,” said Wright.
Nevertheless, Wright warns that a mandatory 1% gross-gaming-yield levy could still be enforced on UK licensed betting incumbents if problem gambling support targets are not met.
Wright underlines that UK health services cannot afford a further repeat of 2018, which saw the UK betting sector generate less than £10 million for problem gambling and treatment directives.
Despite UK betting’s ‘Top 5’ operators promising a ‘cumulative £100 million on treatment over the next four years’, Wright warns the industry that ‘this is not the end of the conversation’.
Whilst the ‘package of measures’ put forward by UK betting leading operators represents progress on funding, treatment, responsibility and collaborative factors, he warns that all industry incumbents have a duty to support UK health networks tackling problem gambling.
“I believe it is reasonable for the biggest companies with the largest reach and the most resources to do more and show leadership,” he added. “But the industry as a whole needs to engage in tackling problem gambling, and we want other firms to look at what they can also do to step up.”