Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has urged a mandatory levy on gambling firms be imposed. "The gambling market is broken and it’s up to the government to fix it," he said in the Commons on Tuesday. "We don’t just need a voluntary patch, we need a full overhaul of the rules and regulations."
The culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, announced that theLadbrokes owner GVC, William Hill, Bet365, the Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment and Sky Bet would increase the amount of cash they pay to help fund the treatment of problem gamblers. The move will increase contributions to £60m (USD 75 M).
It was revealed in May that gambling companies had fallen short of a £10m target in voluntary donations to the leading charity GambleAware in 2018/19, with some firms giving only £1 or £5.
Delivering a statement in parliament, Wright said: "While we all want a healthy gambling industry that makes an important contribution to the economy, we also need one that does all it can to protect those that use it."
He said he understood the argument for a mandatory levy but argued that putting this into legislation would take more than a year to complete, the Guardian reports.
He said the government reserved the right to implement a mandatory levy if the companies did not stick to their commitments.
The companies, which represent about half of the UK’s commercial gambling industry, have said they will cumulatively spend about £100m on treatment specifically.
Watson said the five companies "have shown leadership and responsibility that is sorely lacking in some parts of the industry." However, he described the practice of some firms donating small sums to ensure their presence on a list of donors as "completely unacceptable and deliberately insulting to those leading players”.
He said: "After today we will still have inadequate regulation and a gambling act that is outdated and not fit for the digital age."