A new industry levy is set to generate around £100m a year for the prevention and treatment of gambling, with the NHS primed to be one of the main beneficiaries.
The gambling sector already has a levy in place to accrue investment for research into gambling addiction, but given it is only voluntary, not all companies pay equally. Some operators pay as little as £1 into the fund according to the government, for example.
This has led the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to set up a consultation on a new levy that would see 1% of a company’s gross gambling yield go towards treatment – the fee would be 0.4% for traditional betting shops and casinos.
Said tax would be distributed directly to the NHS and UK Research and Innovation, enabling a greater autonomy for researchers and health leaders, taking power away from the gambling industry.
The news comes after this summer saw the announcement of seven new gambling clinics, essentially doubling the number of specialist facilities treating addiction across England.
The levy also follows the publication of the gambling whitepaper in April, which set out a range of measures to better protect people against the harms of gambling addiction.
Alongside the levy, these include financial risk checks for operators, stake limits for online slot machines, and more stringent rules on the marketing of bonuses. The government has indicated that it aims to have the key elements of its gambling whitepaper in place by next summer.
NHS England’s national mental health director, Claire Murdoch, said: “The NHS has long called for a statutory levy because it is only right that this billion-pound industry steps up to support people suffering from gambling addiction and I am pleased that action is being taken to prevent people from coming to harm in the first place.”
The consultation will be open for eight weeks, closing on 14 December.
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