Gambling firms pledge £100m to forestall government crackdown
The UK’s biggest bookmakers offered the government £100m in funds to tackle problem gambling in an attempt to forestall a crackdown on their industry.
William Hill, Ladbrokes Coral, Betfair Paddy Power, Skybet and Bet 365 all participated in the proposal to raise their contributions to government, said the BBC on Wednesday.
The firms made the pledge in a letter to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
They offered to up the existing levy from 0.1% to 1% over the next five years, which would result in £100m per year in funds for gambling charities. Last year, the voluntary levy raised £10m.
The firms said they would also consider increasing the amount of safer gambling messaging and reviewing the "tone and content" of their advertising.
Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State at the DCMS, said: "I want the gambling industry to step up on social responsibility and keep their players safe, including through making more funding available for research, education and treatment to tackle problem gambling.
"I have met the major players in the sector recently and my department is in discussions with them on a strong package to increase their financial contribution, as well as make meaningful commitments on other measures to help ensure people gamble safely.
"Protecting people and their families from the risks of gambling-related harm is a priority for this government and I am encouraged that the sector now recognises that they need to do more."
In particular, the proposal was spurred by the industry’s desire to avoid the ban on gambling advertising and football shirt sponsorship.
The firms had already agreed to a voluntary "whistle to whistle" ban on advertising during sporting events starting from August of 2019.