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UK Bookmakers Pledge £100m to Help Tackle Problem Gambling

Slot Machine Being PlayedSome of the UK’s biggest gambling firms are joining forces to pledge more than £100m to help tackle the issues associated with problem gambling.

The likes of Coral Ladbrokes, Betfair Paddy Power, William Hill and bet365 will put competitive differences to one side to ensure that research and treatment into addictive gambling is given the requisite amount of investment.

This pledge will come through the current levy system, which the bookies union has confirmed they are willing to increase from 0.1% to 1% for the next five years. That would ensure more than £100m is raised and subsequently dispersed to gambling charities.

The promise was made in a letter signed by representatives of all of the bookmakers mentioned above and sent to the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The move comes in an attempt to quell the concerns of the Gambling Commission, who have said that more staff are required and more research needed into the treatment of problem gambling, with an amount of £70m specified annually.

Bookies have already taken a number of steps to help improve their approach to problem gambling. The lowering of the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 to £2 has already been implemented, while the brands in question have committed to implementing a safer gambling message in their advertising.

“We are committing to collaborate to address gambling-related harm with the priority of protecting the young and vulnerable,” the letter reads, with a number of bookmakers committing to a blanket ‘whistle to whistle’ ban on TV advertising during live sporting events from August 2019 onwards.

Labour Plans Regulatory Overhaul of Gambling Industry

Tom Watson and Jeremy Corbyn
Credit: Rwendland, Wikimedia Commons

With the battle to be named next Conservative leader hotting up, it appears as if the Labour Party are getting their tanks on the lawn with a potential General Election on the horizon.

One of the areas they have chosen to focus on – deputy leader Tom Watson in particular – is problem gambling, and they have already confirmed that they would set up a new ‘gambling ombudsman’ if they were to get into power.

This would be in an attempt to tackle what Watson describes as ‘predatory’ practices in the industry.

The ability to change legislation would lead to a new version of the Gambling Act, should the party get into power, which follows a review last year which highlighted a series of recommendations.

From that Labour unveiled a series of plans, including the ban on making deposits to betting accounts with credit cards, that they believe would help to fight problem gambling.

The new gambling ombudsman would sit on a panel that also features the current industry regulator, the Gambling Commission, as well as the NHS, who would be responsible for research into the education and treatment of problem gambling in the UK.

The ombudsman would have the power to impose a variety of punishments on betting firms that breached regulations. That would include financial penalties for brands which fail to meet legislative measures, and those that aren’t transparent in how they use their customers’ data to ‘sell’ them offers and promotions.