Calls for mandatory levy resurface as industry clamps down on gambling harms and cost of living crunch
GambleAware has called for a mandatory one per cent levy on post winning earnings from operators as the government heads for gambling reform.
The charity has argued that a levy would “provide stability and the best-in-class solutions to prevent gambling harms”, and could be reallocated into longer-term planning and commissioning for problem gambling services.
The charity estimates that £140m could be raised from this tax, and serve as a licensing condition for the gambling firms operating in the UK.
“The ongoing impact of the pandemic, a growing cost-of-living crisis and shift to online gambling means there is a potential increased risk of people experiencing gambling harms that remains unseen until an individual reaches a crisis point,” said Zoë Osmond, GambleAware’s chief.
“Without action now, many more people and families could suffer. That’s why we are calling on the Government to introduce a mandatory, one per cent levy of GGY on the gambling industry as a condition of licence.”
GambleAware has also laid out five other principles that make up its agenda for change; these include support for deprived communities and delivering local prevention and treatment services.
Director of Clean Up Gambling Matt Zarb-Cousin told City A.M. that the proposal of a levy was “long overdue”.
“The amount that’s donated, and which organisations get to receive funding, should not be up to the gambling operators as it is now. An independent and expert statutory levy board should be established to administer and allocate these funds instead”, he said.
A spokesperson for the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “The Betting and Gaming Council’s largest members have already pledged an additional £100m of funding between 2019 and 2023 for research, education and treatment services to be administered by the independent charity GambleAware.
“There are real concerns that land based casinos which have disproportionately high fixed costs would be impacted by a levy – like staff costs, business rates and licenses. A blanket levy puts at risk businesses, that employ tens of thousands of people in struggling hospitality and tourism, that have suffered greatly because of the covid pandemic.
“Many MPs will also be concerned by any attempt by the State to introduce a new, unnecessary tax, in the shape of a statutory levy, that will not add a single penny to research, education or treatment services in the UK.
“Unlike the alcohol industry, which hands the NHS the bill for problems associated with alcohol, our industry has been the majority funder of research, education and treatment for gambling harm for over 20 years and will continue to be so”.