The UK government has confirmed that they will push through their plans to create a new gambling levy, which could see around £100m a year paid to the NHS.
The money raised will be used to fund treatment for those with addictive behaviours, as well as to finance new research into preventions and causes.
The levy, which was first proposed as part of the government’s white paper on the gambling industry and potential legislation changes, will be mandatory in nature; signalling an end to the previous voluntary fund brought in back in 2007, which allowed operators to pay their own chosen percentage of their profits each year.
Instead, that figure will now be fixed by law at 1% of annual revenues – meaning that some of the larger online operators, which include Entain and Flutter, will pay tens of millions into the fund annually.
For those operating on the high street as bookmakers and casinos, the rate will be reduced to 0.4% to reflect their increasing rates, such as rent and utility bills.
With an estimated revenue for the gambling sector of around £10 billion in 2024, it means that the first year of the scheme would raise £100 million for these necessary causes – around ten times more than is received under the current voluntary system.
The money will be paid to the Gambling Commission, who will then distribute the funding directly to the NHS and its research and innovation partners across England, Scotland and Wales.
By the end of 2023, there will be 15 specialist addiction centres on UK soil – there was just one back in 2019. It’s hoped that the new mandatory levy will ultimately lead to more clinics being opened in the near future.
The plans will now be submitted for consultation, which is expected to end by the close of 2023. It’s not thought that there will be any changes to the proposals set out by the government.
The gambling minister, Stuart Andrew, said: “Gambling firms should always pay their fair share and this new statutory levy will ensure that they are legally required to do just that.”
And the culture secretary, Lucy Frazer, commented: “The introduction of this levy will strengthen the safety net and help deliver our long-term plan to help build stronger communities, while allowing millions of people to continue to gamble safely.”
Tonali Faces Ten-Month Ban
The gambling sector, collectively, has long been accused of not doing enough to clean up the industry.
One of the worst offenders in that regard is its ubiquitous positioning at UK football grounds, which means that people of all ages – including children and vulnerable adults – are being presented with marketing on team kits and on advertising hoardings around the pitches.
Such efforts get gambling brands into millions of homes each week thanks to the prolific nature of Sky Sports and TNT Sports, with only a piecemeal effort to limit that in the Premier League via a voluntary ban on front-of-shirt sponsorships enacted earlier in 2023 – that won’t kick in until 2025.
In the meantime, plenty will experience difficulties with their gambling – from fans to players. Ivan Toney will return to football in the new year after his lengthy ban from action, while Newcastle United’s Sandro Tonali will be in the midst of his own suspension.
The midfielder has admitted all charges of betting breaches laid at his door by Italian prosecutors, with the 23-year-old now sanctioned with a ten-month ban that will see him miss the rest of the 2023/24 season and Euro 2024 next summer. His suspension was initially set at 18 months, however the player has agreed to participate in a ‘therapeutic plan’ that could help to battle his demons in return for a shorter ban, while committing to at least 16 public appearances that would see him speak to young players about the perils of betting as a professional.
“The plea bargain and extenuating circumstances have been taken into consideration and the players’ collaboration went above and beyond, therefore we must continue to respect the rules we have established for ourselves,” said FIGC president Gabriele Gravina.
Tonali, who only joined Newcastle for £55 million in July, will join his countryman, Nicolo Fagioli, on the sidelines. The Juventus player is currently serving a seven-month ban of his own after admitting betting on UEFA and/or FIFA sanctioned football games, which is prohibited by the Italian Football Federation (FICG).