In the UK, the gambling industry has been warned by Government Ministers that it has less than a month to establish a voluntary system to fund the Responsibility in Gambling Trust (RIGT) or it will be forced to pay a statutory levy.
According to The Financial Times, the Government will begin drafting legislation to fund the problem gambling scheme in mind-November should the industry fail to meet its requirements with any levy due from April of next year onwards.
The industry has been told that it must contribute $32.6 million over the next three years towards education and research into problem gambling and the treatment of addiction.
Last year, a consultation paper from the Gambling Commission industry watchdog recommended that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport should prepare the ground for secondary legislation. It found that up to 300,000 people suffered with problem gamblers, approximately 0.6 percent of the adult population, while a further 1.25 million were deemed as being at risk.
Several large bookmakers stepped in at the last minute to cover a funding shortfall for RIGT in April after smaller operators failed to make the necessary voluntary contributions. A month later, RIGT revealed that it had received donations from less than one-third of possible contributors with Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, warning of a levy to cover the charity when the current funding runs out in March.
“We are running out of time if a levy is to be avoided,” said Gerry Sutcliffe, the Minister responsible for gambling policy.
However, Sutcliffe stated that he still hoped the industry would come forward ‘with an immediate and firm commitment to the proposed improved voluntary arrangements and associated committed funding for the next three years’.