Renewed threat against bookmakers over funding

Secretary of state for culture, media and sport Andy Burnham has renewed his threat against the gambling industry seeking a statutory levy to fund the Responsibility in Gambling Trust.

The warning comes after it emerged that the RIGT has received donations from less than a third of its possible contributors, with only about 1,000 of the 3,800 licensed operators in the UK coughing up.

A spokesman for the department of culture, media and sport confirms: “The secretary of state stands by his promise that, unless the industry can deliver the required level of funding in a reliable way, that he will seek the approval of the House for a statutory levy.”

The RIGT, which funds treatment, research and education programmes to tackle problem gambling, said last week it had exceeded its £3.5m target for the year ending 31 March 2008 by raising £3.6m.

But this sum was only reached after high street bookmakers William Hill, Gala Coral and Ladbrokes stepped in and effectively bailed the industry out by contributing additional sums to make up the shortfall that would otherwise have occurred (MW.co.uk, April 25).

RIGT chairman John Greenway MP blames smaller operators for not making a donation and it is rumoured that some independent bookmakers gave as little as £10.

The DCMS says: “The industry should not expect only the largest operators to fulfil its obligations. We expect all operators to give funds.”

The Gambling Commission is currently holding a review of the issue, with a second consultation paper due in May. But industry sources claim a statutory levy is now “on the cards” as Burnham is “determined” all operators must contribute to the RIGT.

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