In one of the most regulated gambling markets in the world, the largest gambling operators are voluntarily donating millions of pounds to an independent charitable organization, GambleAware, to help UK residents who are at risk for problem gambling.

The charity, however, has begun pushing for a government-mandated levy on all operators. Refusal to comply would put the operators very licensing in jeopardy.

Gambling in the UK

Online gambling has been consistently growing in the UK. Between big-name operators and new sites springing up every month, there are a plethora of options for UK punters to test and play. In fact, on NoDepositHero.com, there is a full list of operators available online for UK players.

Along with this growing trend, however, there are also issues with problem gambling in the country as well. To that end, among the biggest gambling brands in the industry, Flutter has already pledged £14 million to GambleAware for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

GambleAware Charitable Organization

GambleAware is an independent grant-making charity commissioning prevention and treatment services across England, Scotland and Wales that works in partnership with government agencies, including the NHS.

The charitable organization works towards creating a resource for the prevention of problem gambling and early intervention, attempting to take on the less serious cases in order to allow the NHS to administer the more complex cases of severe gambling addiction.

According to its official website, GambleAware “has a framework agreement with the Gambling Commission to deliver the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms within the context of arrangements based on voluntary donations from the gambling industry.”

GambleAware’s Track Record of Donations

During the 2021-2022 fiscal year, GambleAware raked in £34.7 million (€40.5m/$42.8m) in voluntary donations from UK gambling operators. The four largest gambling operators in the UK account for 89% of the annual donations that GambleAware received, totalling £30.9 million.

The top donations from the last fiscal year include the biggest gambling operators in the country.

  • Flutter – £14 million
  • Entain – £8.7 million
  • William Hill – £4.5 million
  • Bet365 – £4.2 million

These donations go toward covering the essential functions of the charity as well as preventative measures for the assistance of problem gambling in the country, such as assembling panels of experts to attend to people in need.

Pushing for a Mandatory Levy

This year marked the highest number of donations ever received by the charity (£15 million more than the previous year). However, despite the millions of pounds in donations received annually from the gambling industry, GambleAware has continued to petition for a government-backed, mandatory 1% levy on gambling profits — to be then given into GambleAware’s coffers.

Zoë Osmond, CEO of GambleAware, stated that they expect the big four gambling operators to continue to increase their donation levels going forward, but something needs to be done to correct the inconsistency in funding across the gambling industry.

She went on to say that “That’s why we are calling on the government to introduce a mandatory levy on the gambling industry as a condition of licence.” This means that in order for a gambling operator to get a license in order to operate legally in the country, they would be subject to a 1% mandatory tax on their profits, or risk losing their authority to operate.

Levy on Gross Gambling Revenue (GGR) or Gross Gambling Yield (GGY)

While 1% doesn’t sound like a lot of money in the scheme of things, the tax would, in fact, be on gross gambling revenue, rather than net revenue. That means that the 1% would come right off the top before any of the organizations paid their overhead costs.

GambleAware plans to continue pushing for this tax due to several reasons outlined in its submission proposal to the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Gambling Act review, including a variety of socioeconomic issues such as inequality in at-risk communities, increased inflation in the UK, and the less-tangible ongoing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gambling & Gambling Harm in the UK

It’s not surprising that during difficult times of upheaval, societal change, and economic hardship when people tend to look for a distraction or escape. Online gambling can be that escape for many, offering a fun and potentially lucrative way to spend their time from the comfort of home.

Unfortunately, financial desperation can cause a fun pastime to turn deadly for some. For this reason, donations to GambleAware are an important aspect of its mission. According to GambleAware, these funds will go to fund treatment, research, and prevention for millions struggling with problem gambling in the UK.