Gambling industry to face charity levy

Gerry Sutcliffe, the Sports minister, is set to unveil plans that will force gambling operators to pay a statutory levy to fund the industry charity. The move follows the failure of many companies to make voluntary contributions to the Responsibility in Gambling Trust.

Sutcliffe will announce the plans for a compulsory donation system for the problem gambling charity today (January 6). A sliding scale will be proposed and it is understood large national chains will be expected to pay a six-figure sum. A 12-week Government consultation will now take place.

Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has repeatedly warned the industry that it faced a statutory levy if it did not resolve the long-running problem on a voluntary basis (MW May 1).

A statutory levy was first mooted in late 2007 after a huge shortfall in voluntary contributions for the £4m funding target for RIGT. The Gambling Commission, the industry regulator, launched a review in November 2007 (MW November 14, 2007).

The Commission recommended that the Government push ahead with plans for a levy, but is sparked a backlash from the industry, which complained the measure singled it out and would increase administration costs (MW October 23).

In April last year, the major high street bookmakers were forced to step in and cover a gap in RIGT funding after medium and smaller sized operators failed to contribute. It emerged that 80% of the contributions for the year to March 31 2008 were made by just 30 major donors (MW April 25).

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