Labour Party Considering Sports Betting Levy

The opposition party, Labour, is considering a sports betting levy which it says can be used to treat gambling addiction and pay for community facilities. Labour is also thinking of ways to get Premier League football clubs to contribute more money to the development of grassroots activities.

Harriet Harman, shadow culture secretary, said the ‘Olympic Legacy’ that was supposed to lead to increased participation in sporting activities has failed to materialise. In fact, there are fewer active people than before the London Olympics in 2012. She believes putting the squeeze on the profits of bookmakers and football TV rights along with the restoration of a two hour minimum requirement of sports per week in primary schools will help more people become involved.

Harman said that people across the UK are passionate about sport whether it involves watching it on television or supporting their children who take part. While we should be proud to have hosted the Olympics and Paralympics Games in London, the level of participation has got worse and it is something which needs to be addressed. One of the reasons for this was the axing of school sports partnerships by the current government according to Harman.


She claimed Labour wanted to help everyone in the UK get involved in a physical activity with all ages and backgrounds to be included. Harman was speaking at a consultation at the aquatics centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. This consultation is looking at various ideas with the goal of boosting investment in the community and grassroots sports by getting tough with betting companies and the Premier League. Harman concluded by saying a long-term innovative plan for sport is the aim of the consultation.

There is already a levy in place on profits betting firms make from horseracing; this levy made £82 million for sport in 2013 and there is also a 5% voluntary levy on TV revenues set in place by the Premier League for grassroots development. However, this is not enough for Labour and the party wants to extend to levy to all forms of gambling including online betting. It also wants to pressurise the richest clubs in the country into fulfilling their promises.

Not all welcome the scheme though. John Smith who runs football tips website says “Taxing is not the answer to all problems. Surely there are better ways to improve the situation other than to take more money from the average punter?”

Labour says the sums handed over by the Premier League are far below what was promised and believes there needs to be some transparency when it comes to finding out what these clubs actually do to help the game. Other suggestions include setting new targets for the number of women and girls that take part in running sports and the implementation of a 10 year National Strategy for Sport. At present, less than 1.8 million people in the UK play sports regularly.

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