The UK government is facing criticism for its “outrageous” failure to support the compulsory levy on betting operators to increase funding for addiction treatment. Tom Watson, deputy leader of Labour, said that the government is “dragging its heels” on the matter. He was referring to comments from sports minister Mims Davies who said that the existing voluntary levy on operator works. His comments were in stark contrast to that of the UK Gambling Commission, which supports the mandatory charges.
The row recently gained momentum when GVC Holdings, the largest gambling company in the UK, proposed new measures to protect gamblers from harm. It sought to ban gambling advertising on TV completely with the exception of responsible ads, that can be featured once per ad break. It also talked about removing shirt sponsorships and perimeter sponsorships from live sporting events.
GVC’s chief executive Kenny Alexander also called on its competitors to follow suit and do more to ensure that the vulnerable customers are protected. GVC is taking the existing pre-watershed “whistle-to-whistle” ban one step ahead and committing more funds for research and helping those who are suffering from gambling addiction. The newest proposals from the company match a policy proposed by Labour in 2017.
GVC is currently sponsoring the shirts of two third-tier English football clubs Charlton and Sunderland. It is also sponsoring the Scottish Premiership and will continue to retail the deal. However, it plans on donating the pitchside hoarding space to responsible gambling messages. The company’s idea is to reduce instances during live games that may persuade gambling addicts to start betting. This will help fans to watch their favorite teams play without seeing any incentives to bet. It has also called on the gambling industry and the football governing bodies to do the same.
Alexander went on to say that a majority of its customers enjoy the products responsibly. It said that the industry needs to be more responsible for protecting customers from harm. The company has also pledged 1% of its revenue to research, education, and treatment by 2022, which is 10x the existing voluntary levy.
The gambling industry has frequently been accused of not doing enough to pay its fair share by GambleAware. Due to this, chairman of the Gambling Commission, Bill Moyes said that they need hard cash from the mandatory levy to increase funding for research, education, and treatment of problem gambling addiction. This funding should increase to at least £70m a year.