One percent compulsory levy would be weighted across sectors, says Labour

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At a Bacta-sponsored fringe event during the Labour Party Conference, Tom Watson revealed that his proposed one percent statutory levy would be weighted across the differing sectors of the gambling industry.

Tom Watson has revealed that his one percent statutory ‘smart levy’ would be weighted across the various industry sectors, with those most responsible for gambling-related harm also paying the most.

The Labour deputy-leader stopped short of suggesting exactly which sectors would have to stump up more,but it is expected that online gaming and betting would be on the higher, more expensive end of the spectrum, whereas amusements and bingo would be nearer the lower end.As such,the wider industry would together pay one percent, but some operators may pay 1.5 percent, where others pay 0.5. Which ever way one slices it, however, it would still be a significant increase for all operators.

“That one percent would be weighted across different sectors, so it would depend on where that weight landed for us, but I think it’s inevitable that we’ll have to pay a little more,”explained Miles Baron, CEO of the Bingo Association. “That would be disappointing for our members, because our record on voluntary payment is pretty good. We see ourselves as very low risk in terms of gambling-related harm, so I think any increase in terms of levy contribution would not be welcome.”

Indeed, while the industry is supportive of the need for further RET on problem gambling, there is also clearly more research needed on the part of regulators and politicians. For it to be accepted by all, Watson’s ‘smart levy’ should be based on solid evidence and sound reasoning, yet the labour deputy hasn’t even offered an explanation of why one percent is his chosen figure, never mind any explanation about how he will decide which sectors are to pay more.

“In calling for a so-called ‘smart levy’, Watson may have overshot the green,” states Dan Waugh in Regulus Partners’ most recent Winning Post blog. “It is of course,a noble – and theoretically valid – aspiration but it is difficult to see how it might work in practice (most obviously, who would determine the basis for rate differentials).”

Waugh also believes such an experiment is likely to deepen “intra-industry tensions” at a time when the differing gambling sectors are said to be working harder on working together.

Importantly, while Watson’s weighted system may be implemented under a Labour government, it is highly unlikely to be incorporated into the Gambling Commission’s upcoming review of RET funding for two reasons: firstly, deciding which sectors would pay the most is a minefield the regulator is not brave enough to enter. And, secondly, the Gambling Commission’s modus operandi is to blur the lines between those sectors with a low risk of gambling-related harm, and those with a higher risk – lumping all forms of gambling together, and enabling the regulator to judge the entire industry by a few bad actors.

A one percent levy for 0.7 percent of gamblers is an equation that doesn’t currently add-up. Even less so when some sectors will be paying a higher percentage rate.Whichever way Labour slice the percentages, every sector of the gaming and gambling industry will likely find itself diced into much larger pieces than they ever have before.

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