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Silvia Pavlof April 3, 2023 3 min read
New Levy Proposed on UK Gambling Firms to Fund NHS Addiction Treatment
The UK Government plans to introduce a new levy on gambling firms to fund addiction treatment programs for the NHS
Daily Mail and Daily Express reported that the UK Government is planning to introduce a new levy on gambling companies to fund treatment programs for those addicted to gambling, with the proceeds being directed toward the National Health Service (NHS).
Proposed New Levy to Prevent Firms from Exploiting Loopholes in Gambling Contributions
The proposed new levy is designed to create a standardized payment to prevent firms from exploiting loopholes to avoid making sufficient contributions. The Gambling Commission will be responsible for launching a consultation to decide how the levy should be tailored to different firms’ profits and revenues. This move comes following a record GBP19.2 million ($23.6 million) fine that was recently imposed on William Hill by the industry watchdog for failing to prevent customers from accruing unpayable debts.
The NHS will not accept voluntary donations from gambling firms because it considers them a conflict of interest. The UK Government is expected to publish a gambling white paper soon, the most comprehensive review of betting laws in over 15 years, with the aim of ensuring that current regulations are fit for the digital age.
The government wants to allow people the freedom to gamble responsibly while preventing harmful and addictive gambling, and it believes that a new levy will be a vital tool in achieving this aim. The levy will create long-term, reliable funding for treatment services, as many researchers do not accept voluntary funding from the gambling industry due to concerns over the independence of the research.
Betting and Gaming Council Defends Gambling Industry Amidst Proposed Levy
The proposed levy could face opposition from some quarters, however. Reports suggest that Rishi Sunak, the current UK Prime Minister and former Chancellor, was previously against the idea of a levy. The suggestion is that he saw it as a new “nanny state” tax on business, and was concerned that it would harm the racing industry, given the existence of the Catterick racecourse in his constituency. There are also questions about whether the National Lottery will have to make similar contributions.
The Betting and Gaming Council, which represents gambling firms, has said that the majority of people who gamble do so safely and responsibly and that the rate of problem gambling is very low, at just 0.2% of adults. The industry has committed to investing GBP100 million ($123 million) to tackle gambling-related harm, as well as making donations of GBP110 million ($135.4 million).