The Betting & Gaming Council (BGC) has responded to the UK Government’s proposed 1% levy on online gambling companies, a move officials aimed at raising about 100 million pounds ($121 million) per year to fund research, education, and treatment (RET) of gambling addiction.
In response to the proposed levy, which is one of a host of measures in the Gambling Act white paper, the BGC expressed its support for the introduction of a new mandatory contribution. The BGC stated: “Indeed we proposed this to the Government ahead of the White Paper. Our industry has been the majority funder of RET for over 20 years.”
However, the gambling industry trade body said it believes the levy “should apply to all operators, including the National Lottery, without affecting good causes, who are not immune to having problem gamblers gamble with their products like scratch cards and instant win games.”
The body also called for the levy to be applied on a sliding scale, with smaller percentage contributions from land-based operators, including independent betting shops on the high streets, which have struggled to recover after the pandemic and the BGC says incur disproportionately higher fixed costs.
“There must also be adequate oversight to ensure levy funds are only distributed to charities and organizations delivering genuine RET services to ensure long-term, sustainable funding – including protecting existing third sector providers who are already doing vital work and who may now be at risk,” the Council added.
BGC members pledged £100m over four years to fund RET services to help prevent gambling-related harm.
They have gone further and will have donated £110m by March 2024, helping to protect the vital work of third sector RET providers.https://t.co/XirmzP7E9X
— Betting and Gaming Council (@BetGameCouncil) October 17, 2023
The BGC further stated that its members pledge £100 million over four years to fund RET services, currently paid through a voluntary scheme. The body further said its members “have gone further” and will have donated £110 million ($134.1 million) by March 2024, “helping to protect the vital work of third sector RET providers.”
Mandatory levy consultation underway
The BGC’s reaction comes in the wake of the government’s move to introduce this statutory levy as a means to raise funds dedicated to research, prevention, and treatment programs to combat gambling addiction.
With the continuous rise of mobile betting apps and online platforms, the issue of problem gambling has become a focal point of government concern. The existing voluntary levy has been criticized by some govt. officials for what is seen as lackluster contributions, with some operators having allegedly donated as little as £1.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has put forward a plan for the introduction of this statutory levy. For online gambling operators, this would translate into a levy amounting to 1% of their gross gambling yield, whereas traditional betting shops and casinos would contribute approximately 0.4%.
The funds generated through this new levy will provide additional financial support to the National Health Service (NHS) in England, Scotland, and Wales. “We are taking the next step in our plan to protect those most at risk of gambling harm with a new levy on gambling operators to pay for treatment and research,” Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said.
“All gambling operators will be required to pay their fair share. This consultation is an opportunity for the industry, clinicians, those who have experienced gambling harm, and the wider public to have their say on how the proposed gambling operator levy should work.