Gambling firms face forced levy after 2m cash shortfall

RIGTThe gambling industry may be forced to pay a statutory levy to fund the Responsibility in Gambling Trust (RIGT) after the charity suffered a £2m shortfall in voluntary contributions.

The RIGT had agreed a £4m target with the industry but it is only expected to reach half that target by the end of this month after several operators failed to pay up.

A review by the Gambling Commission to consider whether the industry should be forced to pay a statutory levy to fund the RIGT is set to begin on November 26.

The Gambling Commission, the industry regulator, has a statutory responsibility to ensure the vulnerable are protected from being harmed by gambling. It sees RIGT as a major vehicle for delivering a social responsibility message.

RIGT chairman John Greenway MP says the larger gambling companies are supporting the fund but some small- to medium-size operators are not. He hopes the RIGT will have received more contributions before Christmas and says: “The levy is still in the industry’s hands.”

RIGT was established in response to a 2001 Government report, which recommended that an independent trust be set up and provided with voluntary funding from the gambling industry.

Its objectives are to raise and distribute funds for treatment, research and education related to problem gambling. This includes GamCare, which provides counselling and advice and the gambleaware.≠co.uk website, which advertisers are required to display on all gambling advertising.

Greenway warns: “A statutory levy will completely change the relationship between the industry and the RIGT. The industry can hardly claim it is meeting its corporate social responsibility for funding the trust if it is being compelled to do so.”

It is understood that the largest contributors are Ladbrokes, William Hill, Gala Coral and online operator PartyGaming. Gala Coral chief executive Neil Goulden says: “It is now time for everyone to pay up.”

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