Gambling firms to pledge another £60 million to help addicts
Following criticisms, the UKs biggest gambling firms have agreed to give more money to help fund treatment for problem gamblers.
The organisations have agreed to increase their voluntary levy on profits from 0.1 per cent to 1 per cent by 2023, which is predicted to amount to a further £60 million in contributions.
There has been criticism on the amount that the firms spend on helping those with gambling problems in comparison to their marketing budget.
The firms who have announced their increased contributions include William Hill, Ladbrokes Coral, Paddy Power, Betfair, Skybet and Bet365.
The companies have also announced to cumulatively spend £100 million on treatment over the next four years.
They will also review the “tone and content” of their marketing and sponsorship material, so that it is in keeping with safer gambling messages.
Last month, the chief executive for NHS England warned of a potential tax on firms to fund treatment.
He described the disparity between treatment spending and marketing and advertising budgets, condemning the former as only being a
“fraction” of the latter.
The chief executive of Flutter Entertainment, the holding company name for Paddy Power Betfair, said how he felt the move was “an important step to make”.
GambleAware responded by welcoming the move, stressing that “it is essential there is sufficient funding to provide for treatment and support for both problem gamblers and those who are ‘at risk’”.
The Gambling Commission estimates that 430,000 people in the UK have a serious gambling problem.
When accounting for those that are also ‘at risk’ – the majority being young people and those that are vulnerable – the statistic rises to over two million people in the UK.
However, there are also suggestions that the move is a tactical one for business.
A source told the BBC that there are concerns that the industry could follow in the footsteps of the alcohol and tobacco industry.
Over the past 30 years, both industries have seen greater regulation surrounding sales and advertising after health and treatment concerns were not addressed.
The source described that they feared that without acting “we face a ban on touchline advertising or football shirt sponsorship” – both lucrative advertising points for the industry.