The UK government is considering a levy on online gambling companies of up to 1%, a move predicted to raise 100 million pounds ($121 million) per year to fund research, education, and treatment (RET) of gambling addiction.
Currently, a voluntary levy already exists. However, the government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) noted that some operators were paying as little as one pound towards RET initiatives.
The DCMS said: “The Government is minded to set the levy as a new 1% fee on gross gambling yield for online gambling operators, while traditional betting shops and casinos will pay a proposed fee of around 0.4%.”
Consultation on the proposed mandatory gambling levy, which is one of a host of measures in the Gambling Act white paper, is currently underway and will run through December 14th. If approved, the levy would be paid by operators to the Gambling Commission.
The government said the white paper proposes “a fair and proportionate approach” to levy rates between various operators, taking into account the difference, for example, in operating costs and the levels of harmful gambling associated with different gambling activities.
“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.
Frazer concluded by saying that the introduction of this levy will “strengthen the safety net” and help deliver the government’s plan “to help build stronger communities while allowing millions of people to continue to gamble safely.”
Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew
“Gambling firms should always pay their fair share and this new statutory levy will ensure that they are legally required to do just that,” Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew added.
Money earmarked for the NHS, UKRI
If the levy comes into effect, the gambling industry will not have a say over how money is spent. Instead, the Gambling Commission will distribute funding directly to the National Health Service (NHS) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
The new funding is expected to deliver substantial new investment for the NHS in England, Scotland, and Wales and increase access to treatment and support for those experiencing gambling-related harm. The government noted that it will help develop a national approach to prevention and also fund independent, high-quality research to inform policy and practice.
Andrew noted: “We know that gambling addiction can devastate lives, which is why we are working quickly to implement our bold plans for reform. This consultation brings us a step closer to being able to provide £100.0m of new funding for research, prevention and treatment. This includes ring-fenced investment for the NHS to help gambling addicts.”
New clinics to open across the UK to curb gambling addiction
Earlier in July, the NHS announced seven new gambling addiction clinics will open across England. These are in addition to the already existing clinics spread across London, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent and Telford. An additional national clinic, which treats gambling and gaming addiction in children and young people, is also open in London.
Health Minister Neil O’Brien
“Harmful gambling can affect people’s savings, ruin relationships, and devastate people’s lives and health,” said Health Minister Neil O’Brien. “Gambling companies should pay their fair share towards the costs of treatment services, but we want to hear from as many people as possible about how the new statutory levy should work.
“We continue working to support those affected by gambling harms. Twelve of the planned fifteen NHS gambling addictions clinics have now opened across the country providing vital support services for thousands of people experiencing gambling-related harms as well as their loved ones. The remaining three are expected to open by the end of the year.”
Earlier in April, the government set out plans to tackle problem gambling and bring regulations up to date after a rise in betting via smartphones on apps and other online platforms where wagers are just a click away. The government’s white paper proposals also include new online stake limits of between 2 pounds and 15 pounds.
UK gambling industry body Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has shown its support for the levy proposal. However, it called for the levy to go further and apply to all operators, including the National Lottery.