Bookmakers object to Gov’t charity levy

Playing%20CardsGambling operators have reacted with dismay to Government plans to impose a statutory levy to fund the industry charity Responsibility in Gambling Trust.

One industry source slammed the plans as “a train wreck waiting to happen”.

Remote Gambling Association chief executive Clive Hawkswood says: “There’s no statutory levy for the drinks or tobacco industries, so why should gambling be different?”He adds that it is “a bit much” for the Government to claim that the industry is not contributing enough to the issue of problem gambling, when it “puts nothing back in” itself.

Some operators hope that an agreement can be reached in the next few weeks before the Government takes steps to put the legislation in place.

A Gala Coral spokesman says: “It’s essential the industry moves as fast as possible, and we urge all operators to make a three-year funding commitment to the RIGT.”

Meanwhile, a bookmaking source says a statutory system would amount to the “disguised nationalisation” of a charity that was set up by the industry. He claims that such a move would significantly increase administration costs and put further pressure on an industry that is already suffering.

The alarmed reactions follow a consultation by industry watchdog The Gambling Commission, which recommends the Government proceed with steps to impose a statutory levy from April 2009, that will guarantee at least £5m of funding a year. Attempts by the industry to agree a voluntary scheme with the Gambling Commission to fund the RIGT, have so far failed (MW.co.uk, October 21).

Sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe says there must be a “firm and guaranteed commitment, which must be met by the industry for the next three years to allow for medium-term planning”.

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