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Gambling firms to pay £60m to help addicts after missing target

Leading five companies promise to up pay after “deliberately insulting” failure to meet £10m contribution

Gambling

Gambling firms have pledged an extra £60m to help addicts, despite the fact the industry failed to reach a donation target set by a key charity last year.

The owners of William Hill, Ladbrokes Coral, Paddy Power Betfair, Skybet and Bet365 will increase their voluntary levy on gambling profits to one per cent from 0.1 per cent and increase contributions to £60m to help tackle addition.

Leading charity Gamble Aware asks all those who profit from the gambling industry in Britain to donate a minimum of 0.1 per cent of their gambling revenues to reach a target of £10m. But the industry fell short of reaching the donation target last year, giving only £9.6m.

GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches has said the charity welcomes the new initiative and stressed that it is vital that there is sufficient funding to provide support for problem gamblers and those that were at risk.

The industry has repeatedly come under fire over the small amount it spends to help addicts when profits and huge marketing budgets are taken into account. Some gambling firms donated sums like £1 and £5 to Gamble Aware in 2018/19 to ensure they were present on the list of donors.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said that there should be a mandatory levy on gambling firms to fix the “broken” industry, calling the amount of money some companies donated “deliberately insulting”. He told the House of Commons: “When we have 430,000 gambling addicts, 55,000 of whom are children, that is completely unacceptable and deliberately insulting to those leading players in the industry who are trying to take responsibility.”

Watson also urged a “full overhaul of the rules and regulations” for the gambling market.

The Gambling Commission estimates that there are 430,000 people with a serious gambling addiction in the UK.

Jeremy Wright, the culture secretary, said that it’s important the gambling industry does all it can to protect customers, but acknowledged a “healthy gambling industry” makes an important contribution to the economy.

He also said that the government reserved the right to implement a mandatory levy if gambling companies didn’t stick to their commitments.

Last week, it was announced that the first NHS gambling clinic for children was to open amid growing concerns that online gaming sites are fuelling a problem among young people. The Gambling Commission say that as many as 55,000 children have a gambling problem, as Watson mentioned.

Image: Heather R/Flickr

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