Betting firms 'taking the mickey' over charity donations, says GambleAware chief

Gambling firms have been accused of "taking the mickey" by making tiny financial donations to addiction charities, including one company accused of giving just 1p.

Some companies are guilty of "a gross violation of the spirit of the legislation" that says firms must make annual charitable donations to help treat addicts, said Kate Lampard, the new chairwoman of GambleAware.

Ms Lampard accused some businesses of being "fare dodgers", despite her charity asking for donations of just 0.1% of a firm's "gross gaming yield" - the amount staked by gamblers minus the amount of winnings paid out.

She told the Financial Times she was thinking of naming and shaming the firms, adding: "I think it is a gross violation of the spirit of the legislation.

"Our request is fairly modest, and there are some states in the US where not only is the levy a statutory levy, but it is set at 2 per cent of their gross gambling yield.

"One of the very biggest of the gambling companies, we are almost certain, is only paying a third of what they ought to, based on the 0.1 per cent calculation. We have all shapes and sizes of fare dodgers."

Barrister Ms Lampard, whose previous work included leading the NHS investigation into Jimmy Savile's child sex abuse offending at medical facilities, took over her post in June.

GambleAware was previously the Responsible Gaming Trust.

In her FT interview, Ms Lampard also hit out at fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

Ministers are currently under pressure to cut the current £100 maximum stake on the machines.

The Local Government Association has called for FOBTs to be brought in line with other gaming machines on the high street, where the top stake is £2, or casinos where it is £5.

It also wants an update to gaming laws to allow councils to take health issues associated with problem gambling and anti-social behaviour concerns into account when considering applications from betting shops.

Ms Lampard told the FT: "There is a sector of society which gets addicted to gambling, and it has a knock-on effect on many others, their families, friends, businesses.

"It has a cost to the wider economy.

"We know that those machines have a peculiar risk of creating those particular problems."

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