UK gambling minister Stuart Andrew has insisted that the overhaul proposed in the upcoming statutory levy must not disrupt the current problem gambling support framework.
As part of its white paper on gambling reform, the UK government is aiming to raise £100m in research, treatment and prevention funding through a statutory levy, with the NHS the proposed main commissioner of problem gambling support services.
A recent report in The Times revealed some UK community-based charities and initiatives are concerned about how the NHS-led levy would affect their work supporting those suffering from gambling harms.
Addressing the GambleAware Annual Conference, Andrew said it is “absolutely crucial” to ensure there is “no disruption” to the current system of RET funding for charities working in the gaming industry.
He called on the government, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Gambling Commission and the wider industry to “walk before we can run” and “manage” the introduction of the levy to ensure there is “sufficient time to get the right infrastructure, processes and relationships in place.”
“We want a system which has no ‘wrong door’ for people seeking help, where the referral pathways are right and where learning is constantly being shared,” Andrew said. “I hope you will agree that this is an important objective for the future of an effective system of research, prevention and treatment of gambling-related harms.”
The consultation on the statutory levy closes next week and it proposes that online gambling operators pay one per cent of their gross gambling yield towards RET measures. Betting shops and land-based casinos would pay 0.4 per cent of their GGY towards the funding under the plans.
“For the first time, the levy will provide sustainable funding for the government to develop a coordinated prevention approach at the local, regional and national level, providing investment for organisations across Great Britain,” Andrew said. “This will facilitate more upstream interventions where intervention is most critical and most effective.”
Andrew said the government will implement the levy “as soon as we can” and said its “statutory foundations” will be made by introducing the levy in parliament.
Andrew praised the work of GambleAware and said he is “fully aware” that charities and local organisations are “often closer to the populations they are trying to help, support and treat” than the government.
Recent GambleAware data revealed that nine in 10 people who completed treatment through the National Gambling Treatment Service saw an improvement in their condition.