UK gambling firms ‘should be subject to mandatory addiction prevention tax’

A mandatory tax should be imposed on gambling, according to the authors of a new paper published in the British Medical Journal.

The report stated that the economic cost of gambling-related harm had been “significantly underestimated”.

The proposed new Gambling Act would fund addiction treatment, placing the onus on the industry to cut problem gambling, rather than relying on individuals to do so.

This system would replace one whereby the gambling industry pays a voluntary fee that equates to 0.1% of their revenues. If this percentage is applied to the £14.4 billion in revenue that gambling firms made in the latest year, this levy should rise to £14.4 million. Despite this, the Guardian reported that the levy’s recommended recipient - charity GambleAware - received less than £10 million. What’s more, some firms handed over just £1 or £5.

Just £1.5 million was spent in the UK last year on the prevention of gambling harm, while New Zealand spent 100 times more per capita.

It’s estimated that there are 430,000 problem gamblers in the UK, but there is only one specialist clinic for gambling addiction in the country.