The Gambling Act 2005 regulates gambling in Great Britain. The Act has three licensing objectives:

  • preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime.
  • ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way.
  • protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

The Act is overseen and enforced by the Gambling Commission. Under section 123 of the Act, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport can make regulations requiring gambling companies to pay an annual levy to the Commission. Money from the levy can be used for projects relating to: 

  • addiction to gambling.
  • other forms of harm or exploitation associated with gambling.
  • any of the Act’s licensing objectives.

Section 123 has never been commenced.

The DCMS’ Gambling Act Review (December 2020) sought views on, among other things, the Gambling Commission’s resources. The Government has not yet responded but has said it will publish a gambling white paper “in the coming weeks”

Funding to prevent and treat gambling-related harm

The Gambling Commission requires all licensed operators to make a voluntary contribution of 0.1% of net revenue towards the research, prevention and treatment of gambling-related harm. Most operators donate to GambleAware, a charity tha commissions support for problem gamblers, as well as research and awareness-raising on gambling-related harm. In July 2019, Jeremy Wright, the then Secretary of State announced that five of the largest operators (William Hill, Bet365, GVC, Flutter, and Sky Betting and Gaming) would increase their donations from 0.1 to 1% over the following four years.

During a House of Lords debate on 27 April 2022, the Government said that if the existing system failed to deliver the money needed, it would look at options for change, including a statutory levy.

Criticism of the current funding model

Critics claim the current funding arrangement does not generate enough money to prevent and treat gambling-related harm – see, for example:

In a September 2020 paper for the Gambling Commission, the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling said the current funding system was “no longer fit for purpose”. A statutory levy would address issues of transparency, independence, equity and sustainability and public confidence. It would also have the potential to raise “significantly greater levels of funding”.

In April 2022, GambleAware called on the Government to introduce a mandatory levy of 1% of GGY. According to GambleAware, this would raise £140 million annually and would “enable better longer-term planning and commissioning for services to prevent gambling harms”.

What has the gambling industry said?

In a May 2022 blog, Brigid Simmonds, Chair of the Betting and Gaming Council, claimed a statutory levy would not make a “tangible difference” to research, education and treatment (RET) or to problem gambling rates. She said the current funding system was “making good progress” and warned that the “clumsy one-size-fits-all approach” of a statutory levy would have a “disproportionate effect” on land-based operators (casinos, betting shops and bingo halls) that were just recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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