Remote Gaming Association rejects problem gambling claims

A report on problem gambling in the UK newspaper The Observer has members of the Remote Gaming Association up in arms, reports eGaming Review, quoting the chief executive of the trade association, Clive Hawkswood. The report, titled "Gaming firms drag heels over aid for addicts", accused online gambling companies of insufficient contributions to problem gambling funding.

In the article, The Observer claimed: "The most serious problem is that many internet companies, which are based in tax havens such as Gibraltar and the Cayman Isles, refuse to hand over cash. Small bookmaking businesses and arcade owners generally also hold off contributions knowing that larger operators will fill the void".

Hawkswood rejected the claims, pointing out that the RGA currently recommends UK-licensed members, which include most of the major gambling groups, pay 0.05 percent of gross profits towards the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, and that this will increase to 0.07 percent next year.

Offshore-licensed members of the RGA contribute a minimum of GBP 10 000 each, and last year the RGA members had in fact provided over 10 percent of the total GBP 3.5 million raised - considerably more in percentage terms than their market share.

Hawkswood told eGaming Review: "The Gambling Commission is undertaking a funding review and is due to report back to the government this month on how to get the best out of research, education and treatment," but he pointed out that any imposition of a compulso0ry levy set by government could make it more difficult to obtain amounts from offshore companies and service providers.

"One of the things we've been talking about is getting software firms, banks and others, which all benefit from gambling, to contribute to RIGT", Hawkswood revealed.

Ciaran O'Brien, spokesman for Ladbrokes, said that the main point is that the necessary funds had been raised: "The industry will clearly have disputes about who should pay what, but the key point is that the funds are raised and the services provided, which is the case today. Of course we would like more operators to contribute but that shouldn't ignore the fact that this is an industry demonstrating its commitment to this area."

Hawkswood said that part of the problem is that there are so many different parties involved: operators contributing funds; those who want the funds and academics, who want money for research projects. "You have to assess which is the right one, and you have to spend the money wisely," he said.

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