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UK gambling firms commit to do more to help addicts following criticism

File photo dated 05/02/08 of a croupier with a roulette table. Gambling firms are not doing enough to promote safe betting on Twitter amid the "sheer scale" of their marketing, according to researchers. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday May 2, 2019. Operators promote safe gambling messages just over once in every 100 tweets (1.6%), researchers from Northumbria University found. See PA story CONSUMER Gambling. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

By Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter

Five of the UK's biggest gambling companies have committed to a series of measures to address problem gambling, including a major increase in funding for addiction, following government pressure.

The companies - Bet365, Paddy Power-owner Flutter, Ladbrokes-owner GVC, Sky Betting & Gaming, and William Hill - have agreed the proposals to create a safer gambling environment after discussions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The gambling firms will significantly increase their financial support for safer gambling, increasing their commitment from 0.1% of their gross gambling yield to 1% by 2023.

This will result in roughly £60 million in funding support from the firms in 2023, and it will remain at that level for the future.

It comes after criticism over the amount of money gambling firms spend to help addicts compared with marketing spend.

Last month, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens called for a tax on betting firms to pay for addiction treatment.

Over the next four years, the firms will cumulatively spend £100 million on addiction treatment and co-operate with health organisations to determine where support is most needed.

The companies have also agreed to "review the tone and content" of advertising and marketing, as well as increase messages regarding safer gambling.

The five firms will be required to report on their progress to the Gambling Commission.

Peter Jackson, chief executive officer of Flutter, representing all five gambling companies, said: "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.

"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."

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: "The gambling industry has a responsibility to tackle problem gambling and contribute to the cost of treatment to rebuild the lives of those affected.

"I welcome the commitments of five leading gambling operators today to significantly increase the funding they provide.

"We will monitor closely the progress of these new measures and encourage the wider industry to step up. The Government will not hesitate to take further action to protect people from gambling-related harm."

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