In the UK, the Government has announced plans that would require bookmakers and other gaming companies to pay more than $7.4 million a year in order to fund education programmes, helplines and research into problem gambling.
According to a report in The Independent newspaper yesterday, the voluntary donation scheme that has been in place since 2002 has consistently fallen short forcing major operators to step in at the last minute to meet minimum funding targets. The newspaper reported that smaller outlets have consistently refused to contribute over the past two years to the current system citing difficult financial conditions, which has led to a shortfall for 2008/09 of almost $1.8 million.
'This move will secure the future of problem gambling treatment and will ensure that all operators pay their way,” The Independent quoted a Government source.
“Discussions continuing on the voluntary route have so far fallen short of the mark and now is the time to get this sorted one way or another.'
The newspaper reported that 80 percent of current donations to the Responsibility In Gambling Trust (RIGT) come from just 30 major donors while small, on-course bookmakers would be exempt from the planned compulsory donation system.
The plan is the brainchild of Andrew Burnham, Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and would see bookmakers with one shop required to donate between $268 and $447 a year while large national chains would be asked for a six-figure sum.
Gambling operators now have twelve weeks to save themselves from the statutory system by agreeing a voluntary deal while a consultation process takes place.
'The prospect of a voluntary agreement is still on the cards if the industry can give satisfactory guarantees,” said the Government source.