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BGC urges tiered mandatory levy for gambling harm RET services

| By Robert Fletcher
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) said it would support a mandatory levy to help fund research, education and treatment (RET) services to tackle gambling-related harm, but only if it was independent and tiered to protect land-based operators.

The government’s much-anticipated white paper on gambling in Britain will reportedly make reference to a blanket 1% fee on all businesses, meaning land-based operators would pay the same rate as online businesses.

BGC said its industry analysis suggests a blanket 1% statutory levy to land-based operators would be the equivalent of between a 10% and 15% hit on post-tax profits because of the fixed costs, such as rent and staffing expenses, that do not equally apply to online operators.

The organisation also noted how many land-based businesses in Britain are still recovering from the pandemic, as well as rising fixed operating costs and high inflation, and that any additional costs could cause them harm.

While the BGC previously proposed during the review of gambling that RET contributions should be mandatory for the industry, it urged the government to adopt a sliding scale and smaller percentage contributions from land-based gambling businesses that have disproportionately had higher fixed costs.

“I have said for some time that I am relaxed about a so-called statutory levy given that the money is already on the table from BGC members; it is already allocated independently of the industry and given that it was the BGC who proposed to government last year that contributions should be mandatory,” BGC chief executive Michael Dugher (pictured) said.

“But we want to see continued sustainable funding for RET provided it recognises the fact land-based operators are under greater cost pressures, so there has to be appropriate mitigation, and that funds continue to be distributed effectively and genuinely independently.

“It is absolutely vital that treatment is available to those sadly suffering with the most serious cases of ‘disordered gambling’, who often have multiple complex health issues and who require treatment in clinics, who represent a minority of the Gambling Commission’s broader definition of the problem gambler cohort. 

“But most importantly, any new system must be tiered to protect land-based operators like bingo, casinos and betting shops, who have disproportionately higher fixed costs because of buildings and tens of thousands of staff. They are still struggling post-Covid, like every other retail, hospitality and entertainment business, with all the difficult economic headwinds.

“The government claim they believe in low regulation and low taxes for businesses, so they need to avoid this new tax leading to job losses or more businesses going bust.”

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