GVC Holdings PLC (LON:GVC) has supported a review of the UK’s gambling laws, although the Ladbrokes Coral owner added that it is “concerned” around a lack of public awareness about existing tools to control problem gambling among customers.
A report published by the House of Lords Gambling Industry Committee on Thursday has called for an urgent review of legislation, as well as a number of policy proposals including the creation of a gambling ombudsman, a ban on betting firms sponsoring sports teams and advertising at venues, and the classification of video game ‘loot boxes’ as a form of gambling and subject to relevant legislation.
The committee also called for the introduction of a mandatory problem gambling levy, changes to the powers of the Gambling Commission which regulates the industry and more NHS services to treat problem gambling.
“Lax regulation of the gambling industry must be replaced by a more robust and focussed regime which prioritises the welfare of gamblers ahead of industry profits”, said the committee chair, Lord Grade of Yarmouth.
“Addiction is a health problem which should be treated by the NHS and paid for by gambling industry profits. The Government must impose a mandatory levy on the industry. The more harmful a gambling product is, the higher the levy the operator should pay”, the peer added.
In a statement, FTSE 100-listed GVC said it welcomed the report and also released its own findings which the firm said reflected “broad support” of gambling as a “legitimate leisure activity amongst the British public”.
“We fully support the recommendation to bring forward the UK Government's Review of the Gambling Act and we will play a full and active role in this process”, said GVC chief executive Kenny Alexander.
However, the CEO noted that the company’s research had also shown a “lack of awareness” among the public about existing industry measures to prevent problem gambling, with only 8% of non-gamblers showing knowledge of current measures already in place.
“We have to do a better job of communicating...because those who are implacably opposed to gambling as a matter of principle are actively seeking to damage the industry through onerous regulation, which will ultimately drive customers into the hands of the unregulated black market. It is important that all stakeholders work together to keep gambling effectively regulated for all parties", Alexander said.
GVC shares were 3.3% higher at 773.2p in mid-morning trading on Thursday.
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