Five of the industry’s big guns have shed light on recent revelations that there would be a collaborative effort in improving problem gambling initiatives by boosting levy contributions from 0.1 per cent up to 1 per cent over the next five years.
It was reported by the BBC yesterday that CEOs from Bet365, Flutter Entertainment, GVC Holdings, Sky Betting & Gaming and William Hill have committed to increasing ‘voluntary contributions’, and have since confirmed that they will take part in a consultation with the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
A spokesperson on behalf of the five CEOs commented: “We have engaged constructively with the DCMS Secretary of State on safer gambling measures including an increase in voluntary funding for research, education and treatment.
“We will continue to engage on the issues and will consult with all relevant stakeholders on this to understand how best to achieve our shared aim of minimising the impact of gambling-related harm. In addition, we have been working with a broader number of operators on measures to minimise gambling related harm and will comment on them in due course.”
The consultation process will seek to encourage industry stakeholders to develop a long-term, ‘costed plan’ by the end of 2019 which will address any future strategies to raising funds for the treatment of problem gambling.
UK betting firms were criticised heavily by Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson yesterday during his speech at cross-party thinktank, Demos. The increase in levy funds does demonstrate a commitment to curbing problem gambling, however, and will act as an addition to the imminent voluntary “whistle to whistle” ban on gambling advertising that the industry has agreed to, due to start this August.
Despite the pledge by the industry to ramp up donations for problem gambling this way, which has been estimated to bring in anything between £60m – £117m annually, some campaigners and researchers remain unsatisfied.
Top 5 UK gambling firms offer to increase voluntary levy to 1% | Society | The Guardian. So – not mandatory, not £100 million; not the whole industry. @ronniecowan ‘It’s a bribe to appease campaigners and the UK government’ https://t.co/K1znOGgJkA
— Gerda Reith (@GerdaReith) June 19, 2019
A blog by Regulus Partners, published before the news broke of increased donations, warned about the lack of discussion that has been had in branding problem gambling a ‘public health matter’ and suggested that the industry also promotes the benefits that gambling provides to society.
It commented: “The fact that companies are investing significant resource in harm reduction is obviously a big step forward; but this alone is insufficient to meet the threat. There is likely to be no level of harm reduction that will appease their opponents (as demonstrated by curmudgeonly responses to pretty much anything good that operators do). It is critical therefore that operators do more to understand and articulate the benefits of gambling – and that they allow the voice of the customer to be heard.”