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UK betting firms pledge £100m to battle gambling addiction

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Five of the largest betting companies in the United Kingdom have vowed to increase their voluntary levy on annual revenue in a bid to combat problem gambling.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that Bet365, Ladbrokes Coral, Paddy Power Betfair, SkyBet and William Hill will raise their contribution from 0.1 per cent to 1.0 per cent by 2023.

The bookies estimate that will amount to a £100 million contribution over the next four years, with the annual figure rising from £10m to around £60m.

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“This is an unprecedented level of commitment and collaboration by the leading companies in the British betting and gaming sector to address gambling-related harm and promote safer gambling,” said Peter Jackson, CEO of Flutter Entertainment (aka Paddy Power Betfair).

“The whistle-to-whistle advertising ban was a good start; now we are funding a significant expansion in treatment and we continue to work on a number of areas of collaboration and best practice.

“Our aim is nothing less than a step change in how we tackle gambling-related harm.”

The move comes amid growing concerns about the rise of problem gambling in the UK, with recent reports claiming as many as 430,000 Britons – including 55,000 under the age of 16 – suffer some form of gambling addiction.

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Bookmakers and online casinos have come under fire for spending vast amounts on advertising and marketing while contributing only a small fraction of their profits to responsible gambling causes.

According to GambleAware CEO Marc Etches, this latest development is a significant step in the right direction.

“We welcome this initiative by the leading operators as it’s essential there is sufficient funding to provide for treatment and support for both problem gamblers and for those who are ‘at risk’ – particularly the young and vulnerable,” he told the BBC.

“Customers should be able to gamble in a safe environment, where help and advice is readily available at the point of need.

“It is vital that we work closely with the commission, government and other organisations to ensure that operators continue to focus on making gambling products safer, and that treatment and support is properly funded alongside other initiatives including the Safer Gambling campaign, Bet Regret.”

The five bookies also agreed to institute new measures to better protect punters from the various risks associated with online gambling.

That comes in response to a consumer protection crackdown from the UK Gambling Commission, which has fined several companies and issued multiple industry-wide warnings in the past two years.

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