The UK government plans to impose a compulsory levy on all gambling companies in order to fund the treatment and prevention of gambling addiction.
Gambling companies will be required to fund more research, education and treatment to address the harmful impact of gambling on individuals and society. The levy is expected to raise millions of pounds.
UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Lucy Frazer, revealed the government’s plans to set maximum stakes between £2 ($2.23) and £15 ($18.86) for online slot machines.
“We need a new approach that reflects that a flutter is one thing, unchecked addiction is another,” Frazer said in a statement to the Commons. “So today we are bringing our pre-smartphone regulations into the present day with a gambling White Paper for the digital age.”
The government is conducting an extensive review of gambling laws to ensure relevancy due to a surge in online betting and several high-profile cases where customers have incurred significant losses or committed suicide.
Initiated in December 2020, the review has faced delays due to political upheaval and the pandemic, causing it to be postponed four times. Per reports, the review has been overseen by three prime ministers, four culture secretaries and six gambling ministers.
According to Frazer, the Gambling Commission will consult on bonus offers to ensure they do not contribute to gambling addiction.
“We know many addicts find each time they break free from the temptation to gamble, they are drawn back into the orbit of online companies with the offer of a free bet or some free spins,” she said.
The government’s plan to implement a statutory levy on gambling firms aims to “turn the tables” on the issue of problem gambling by shifting the financial burden from the National Health Service (NHS) and other public services to the gambling industry.
Frazer also acknowledged the obstacles traditional gambling premises face, such as casinos and bingo halls, compared to their online counterparts.
According to her, the current regulations are outdated, and the government will remove restrictions to rebalance the regulation and level the playing field for the land-based sector.
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