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Scots MP Wants Bookies to Increase Funding for Helping Gambling Addicts

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Inverclyde MP Ronnie Cowan recently urged gambling operators to increase funding for gambling addiction help. He wrote to prominent companies like Paddy Power Betfair, William Hill, BetFred and Bet365 to increase their payments and support mandatory payments to support addiction charities. He said that the operators must share a bigger portion of their profits.

The call from Cowan follows a report from the Sunday Mail which revealed that voluntary funding targets of the gambling operators fell short. GambleAware, the charity which benefits from these voluntary payments collected only £9.6 million, falling short of its £10 million goal. Major betting firms only shared a tiny fraction of their profits with the charity.

In his letter, Cowan wrote to the bookmakers that they are the top 5 gambling operators in the UK and hence, they have the responsibility to their customers. He said that they should ensure that gambling-related harm is minimized and people who are at risk are supported.

GambleAware has started two National Problem Gambling Clinics in England. Cowan said that he wants a similar clinic set up for gambling addicts in Scotland as well. He asked the bookmakers if they will support a mandatory levy which will help in funding education, research, and treatment for people who have experienced gambling-related harm.

Note that the betting firm agreed to provide a 0.1% share of their revenue to the gambling-based charities when the market was deregulated in 2005. However, the levy was mandatory, and the companies do not appear to be keen on following the agreement. For instance, The Sunday Mail suggests that Bet363 made a turnover of £2.86 billion and operating profits of £660.3 million. However, the operator only donated £868,000 to GambleAware.

GVC Holdings, the owner of Ladbrokes Coral, paid £1.46 million on estimated revenue of £3 billion. Paddy Power earned revenue of £1.74 billion but paid only £445,000. William Hill paid £1 million on revenues of £1.6 billion. The firms noted that they had paid their obligations based on UK revenues.

Cowan is the vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling-related harm. He also campaigned with the Sunday Mail earlier to regulate fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). Recently, the maximum bets on these machines were reduced from £100 to £2. Cowan is expected to talk about the mandatory levy on bookmakers where he speaks at the Parliament this week. He noted that it is time for the UK government to start supporting a mandatory levy.