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GambleAware and NHS England back statutory levy

| By Robert Fletcher
Charity GambleAware and NHS England have declared their backing for a proposed statutory levy on operators active in Great Britain.
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Put forward as one of several proposed regulatory changes in the recent Gambling Act white paper, the levy would be paid to the Gambling Commission. Funds generated would fund research, education and treatment (RET) for gambling harms. 

A consultation on design and scope for this will take place this summer, with GambleAware and NHS England voicing their support ahead of this.

GambleAware delivers prevention and treatment services for gambling harms, including the National Gambling Support Network. It also works with and alongside a number of voluntary sector organisations, as well as the NHS, to ensure people can access services. 

Independence of funding

Henrietta Bowden-Jones, National Clinical Advisor on gambling harms for NHS England, said the levy would help ensure independent funding for programmes and treatment for gambling-related harm.

“The statutory levy has the potential to finally ensure the independence of funding for treatment and research programmes, as well as for prevention initiatives to address gambling harms,” Bowden-Jones said.

“It must be implemented without delay in order for fully integrated treatment pathways to be established.

“In the interim period until the levy is distributed, the NHS has a commitment to continue the longstanding and constructive work with GambleAware to ensure that all patients in need of gambling treatment are accessing the service that they need.

“The NHS has no wish to be the sole provider of all gambling treatment at national level. On the contrary, it is committed to working with non-statutory providers of gambling treatment across the country.”

Certainty and stability for future funds

GambleAware’s chief executive, Zoë Osmond, also welcomed the proposal, saying the levy would provide “certainty and stability” for funding.

“Gambling is a serious public health issue which can affect anyone,” Osmond said. “As commissioner, we work closely with DCMS, DHSC, OHID, the Gambling Commission and NHS England to ensure efficient and effective service delivery across the country.

“We welcome the introduction of a statutory levy on the industry to provide certainty and stability of funding, which will allow us and others to make long-term commitments to meet the needs of the population.”

White paper proposal

Published in April, the long-awaited white paper covered a range of major topics regarding gambling and future regulation in Britain.

One key topic included affordability checks. Proposals were for players who lose £1,000 within 24 hours, or £2,000 over a period of 90 days, being subject to detailed checks on affordability. In addition, operators will have to perform “passive” checks on players who have a net loss beyond £125 each month, or £500 per year.

The document also proposed a consultation on stake limits and plans to implement a limit of between £2 and £15 per spin. Lower thresholds would be applied to new accounts.

Other submissions included an easing on land-based restrictions, while the Commission will hold a consultation on new proposed advertising and promotional controls for customers. 

In addition, the government could give statutory backing to a voluntary agreement currently in place with payment providers, in which illegal gambling sites are blocked. This would mean the Commission could apply for a court order to force providers to block these sites.

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