ABB supports RGA calls for statutory problem gambling levy

ABB supports RGA calls for statutory problem gambling levy

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 Posted by Joseph Streeter
The ABB reaffirmed its support of the levy after the RGA detailed its stance on the issue yesterday

The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) has voiced its support for The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) after announcing that it would urge the Government to introduce a statutory levy to replace the current system of voluntary funding.

The current voluntary funding system, which is overseen by GambleAware, is in place to fund research, education, and treatment of problem gambling, as well as to ensure that the National Responsible Gambling Strategy is properly funded.

Originally established by the gambling industry to provide finances for a range of social responsibility projects, the RGA emphasises that full credit should be given to all those companies who have contributed to it regularly over the years. Adding that, without this support there would have been few or no specialist treatment services in Great Britain and less resource available for research and education.

The RGA goes onto state, however, that it has become increasingly clear that this system is no longer fit for purpose and this concern is presumably why DCMS, within its Consultation on proposals for changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures (October 2017), posed a specific question about the future of the funding of research, education and treatment.

A spokesperson for The ABB told TotallyGaming.com: “The ABB will be supporting an appropriate, compulsory levy on the gambling industry to fund problem gambling treatment in our response to the government’s consultation, as we have long argued that the gambling industry needs to work together to reduce the number of problem gamblers and address the fact that most problem gamblers move between different forms of gambling.”

The RGA’s previous position was that it was not opposed in principle to the introduction of a statutory levy. After careful consideration, it has now taken the decision that it should instead proactively seek the introduction of such a levy for which there is already a reserve power in the Gambling Act 2005. When it responds in January to the DCMS consultation, it will adopt this line and propose ways in which an equitable and effective levy system could be implemented sooner rather than later.

Commenting on the proposal, the RGA’s Chief Executive Clive Hawkswood said: “There has been much to commend in the voluntary funding system, but if we are to combat problem gambling to the best of our ability and to minimise gambling related harm, then now is the time for change and for a fresh start. We are all disappointed that the current system has been the subject of so much criticism and has struggled with fundraising, but we need to put that behind us.

“We have acknowledged the problem and put forward a long-term solution. We believe everyone’s efforts should now be focussed on bringing this change about. For the industry this should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat.

"More funding is needed if we are to fulfil our responsibilities to everyone in this country who gambles, and especially those who are affected by problem gambling. A statutory levy will ensure the right funds are raised in a fair and open process and, crucially, that they are allocated in a way that is transparent, independent, and achieves measurable benefits.”

Totally Gaming says: The ABB’s reaction to this development yesterday shows a rational approach to the issue of problem gambling in the UK. For the ABB to highlight the need for a united approach on tackling the issue underlines that a solution can be found without introducing regulations that would cripple the retail betting industry.

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