Stuart Andrew: “I am invested in the meaningful opportunities the levy presents”

Stuart Andrew took on the gambling brief last year.
Stuart Andrew took on the gambling brief last year.

The gambling minister has promised a “holistic approach to investment, commissioning and evaluation.”

UK.- The Department of Culture Media and Sport under-secretary Stuart Andrew hailed the “meaningful opportunities” of the planned UK levy on gambling operators in a speech at a parliamentary forum hosted by the charity Gambling with Lives (GWL).

Andrew touched on various measures taken since the publication of the UK gambling white paper almost a year ago, including the announcement of new online casino spin limits. However, he emphasized the mandatory gambling levy as a “step change for the sector”.

“I know all of you are particularly invested in the levy consultation, and ensuring that we introduce a system that builds a holistic approach to investment, commissioning and evaluation,” he said. “I am invested in the meaningful opportunities the levy presents. I recognise that funding is not the only requirement for an equitable and effective system, but increased investment is crucial.”

The government’s proposal is for the levy to work on a sliding scale, from 0.4 per cent of gross gambling yield for smaller bookmakers to 1 per cent for larger ones. The Betting and Gaming Council estimates that 492 bookies belonging to 38 businesses will be impacted by a 0.4 per cent levy, however, some say they have claimed that they won’t be able to afford the additional cost.

Andrew hailed the benefits of “ring-fenced, trusted and sustainable funding for research” which he said would “fill gaps in the evidence on gambling and gambling harm and inform policy and regulation”. He said it would also provide much-needed investment in treatment services, noting that fewer than 5 per cent of problem gamblers receive treatment, which he said was “significantly lower than for alcohol issues, where around 18 per cent of dependent drinkers are in treatment”.

The gambling levy will go to the NHS, which will replace GambleAware as the steward responsible for overseeing services. Andrew said this would foster more trust (GambleAware has recently defended its impartiality amid a complaint to the Charity Commission.

He added: “The suite of regulatory protections we are implementing are aimed at preventing harm before it occurs or earlier in the journey. However, the statutory levy represents a doubling of efforts in this area. Targeted investment in coordinated prevention activity on the ground, at local, regional and national levels is an unprecedented move.

“I am committed to this agenda and have full confidence in the significant steps forward we are taking as a country to reduce gambling harms.”

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