Five of the UK’s biggest bookies have committed to a tenfold increase in their contributions towards fighting gambling addiction.
Bet 365, Flutter, GVC, Sky Betting and Gaming and William Hill said they signed a pledge this morning. It commits them to spend one per cent of their UK gross gambling yield promoting safer gambling.
“This is an unprecedented level of commitment and collaboration by the leading companies,” said Peter Jackson, the boss of Flutter. The firm was created from the merger of Paddy Power and Betfair.
The effort will raise around £60m a year from the five companies when it scales up by 2023, they said.
It also includes approximately £6m a year for Gamble Aware, a UK charity which fights harm from gambling.
But it comes a week after the Gambling Commission revealed it had fined gaming companies nearly £20m last year for failing to protect the UK’s 460,000 problem gamblers. It carried out more than 160 investigations in 2018.
MPs will grill creative industries minister Margot James later today.
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee members are expected to raise concerns around gambling and virtual reality.
Lord Chadlington, a Conservative champion of safer gambling, said the new initiative will promote reforms rooted in independent research.
“We must be certain” he said, “that through the consultation process, a means is secured for the funds to be administered and the programmes evaluated, independent of the contributing companies and the gambling industry as a whole.”
Late last year Bet 635, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes all agreed a whistle-to-whistle advertising ban.
The ban means the companies will not broadcast television advertisements during live sports broadcasts.