Compulsory levy suggested
By Linda
Members of Parliament, after hearing evidence Tuesday that organizations need more funding to deal with UK’s problem gamblers, want the gaming industry to increase their contributions toward the cause.

MPs show concern that without a compulsory levy, funding for needed support services may not be available.

Director Paul Bellringer of Gamcare - a charity that provides education and counselling to problem gamblers - estimates 3.5 million people are adversely affected by gambling.

Figures published today in its ‘Care Services Report ‘ for 2001 show the most popular places to gamble are still traditional venues such as arcades, betting offices and the pub but Internet gambling is also beginning to appear.

Improved data collection has enabled GamCare to establish that over 40,000 calls to the Line were attempted last year, yet only a quarter of those were effectively connected to the service.

Paul Bellringer, GamCare’s Director, said: “The charity urgently needs more resources to staff more lines for longer hours so that everyone who wants help can get it.”

Bishop of Blackburn, Alan Chester, warned that there is a need for 'a much tougher approach to ensure that responsibility properly rests with those who provide the gaming facilities and not with charitable bodies.'

But some gaming executives believe there is no need for a statutory levy. The British Casino Association highlighted the creation of a Gambling Industry Charitable Trust that has raised over $1million toward gambling-problem efforts.

At the end of counselling Gamcare found that the number of people who had stopped or brought their problem under control stood at an impressive 81% and even 6-12 months later 62% remained gambling free.

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