Fast response to UK Football Association’s proposed levy on gambling companies

News on 27 Oct 2018

The suggestion earlier this week by Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn that a levy be imposed on gambling companies to help support grassroots English football (see previous report) has been met with a decidedly negative response from operators who are already feeling the pinch of tax, compliance and regulatory costs.

Clive Hawkswood, CEO of the trade body Remote Gaming Association which represents most major UK betting companies said Friday there was “no basis whatsoever” for payments to “support what most people would consider to be an extremely wealthy sport”.

Hawkswood told The Telegraph newspaper, where the topic of a levy on bets had first appeared: “The British betting industry already pays for the use of football’s intellectual property rights, not least through contractual arrangements with Football DataCo.

“Alongside that significant funds flow from the betting to the football industries through a range of commercial partnerships such as sponsorship, advertising and joint ventures.

“If the football authorities wish to use some of those funds to support grassroots football then that is an option they might consider, but there is no basis whatsoever for the introduction of a statutory betting levy to support what most people would consider to be an extremely wealthy sport.”

The independent responsible gaming body Senet Group also opposed the idea of a levy, with chairperson Gillian Wilmot expressing concern at the large amounts of cash which flow to English football from the gambling industry.

“We should be very concerned about protecting young people, particularly young men, and vulnerable people,” she said, warning that additional levies on operators could threaten the current voluntary levy many betting companies raise to help prevent gambling addiction and support existing addicts.

“That money needs to go to prevention of any gambling addiction and treatment of those who become addicted, it can’t go anywhere else,” she said. “That must go to preventing problem gambling and also treating those who become addicted, and that’s only right.”

UK Gambling Commission figures for 2015-2016 show that bookmakers made GBP 333.4million in profits from bets placed on the football in Britain.

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