After GambleAware revealed many firms gave £10 or less in 2018-19, MPs called for compulsory levy.
The gambling industry has failed to meet a target of £10m in voluntary donations. The donations would support leading charities that funds addiction treatment and research. This failure to meet donation targets has reenergised calls from MPs for a compulsory levy.
Gamble Aware has released data, showing that in 2018-2019 the industry gave £9.6m. Some firms gave just £1 or £5, ensuring their presence on the list of donors.
The Current System
As part of a deal agreed when the last Labour government deregulated gambling in 2005, bookmakers, bingo halls, live casinos and online betting companies agreed to donate, voluntarily, 0.1% of their revenues to charity.
The target set by GambleAware was £10m, after failing to meet this target many are calling for change to the system. However, the £10m donations target set by GambleAware is already lower than the £14.4m it would receive if firms met that target of just 0.1%. This is based on annual revenue of £14.4bn from betting.
A list of firms who donated to GambleAware revealed some companies donated as little as £1 or £5. This nominal donation ensured their name was included on the list of voluntary donors.
Time for Change?
Reports of the industry’s failure to meet its commitment to charitable donations comes shortly after Mims Davies, the sports minister, publicly praised the existing levy system, causing some controversy.
During a speech at the launch of a national strategy to reduce gambling harm, Davies said the existing system of voluntary levy “does work”. Referring to these recent donation figures, Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, said “This shows exactly why the sports minister is wrong; we do need a mandatory levy”.
“These companies are making billions and yet are refusing to contribute even 0.1% to support research, education and treatment of gambling harms. The pittance contributed by some firms, and the complete absence of others from this list, is frankly an insult to the voluntary system. We urgently need reform.”
The Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs a cross-parliamentary group on issues surrounding fixed-odds betting terminals, said: “We have always known that without a compulsory levy the industry would play lip service to contributing to rehabilitation and treatment.
“I was aghast when the minster stated that the current system worked. Morality and principle are not words that spring to mind in connection with this industry.”
Under the terms of the Gambling Act 2005, the government has the power to introduce a mandatory levy at any time. If acted upon this could instantly regulate the donation of the industry.
Davies has said that if the industry doesn’t pay enough to fund addiction treatment and research the government would consider introducing a mandatory levy.
Over and over, GambleAware has said the industry is not donating enough. They suggest that as a result of the national harm reduction strategy funding requirements are likely to rise.