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A Tory grandee has vowed to declare “war” on the government if a long-awaited review of gambling laws is watered down.

A “polluter pays” mandatory levy on betting firms, to fund addiction treatment and research, will reportedly be left out of a White Paper next month.

Sources familiar with the talks told the Sunday Times No10 was likely to support greater voluntary contributions, to avoid further taxes on the industry.

The Mirror understands officials are still in talks about whether to include the levy.

The White Paper could also stop short of forcing Premier League clubs to remove betting ads from players’ shirts, it is reported.

It’s thought the government is hoping to reach a voluntary agreement with Premier League clubs to remove betting sponsors’ names from shirts.

Hitting out over the levy, Tory ex-leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told the Sunday Times: “I will go to war with the government on this.

“The evidence is clear about the damage problem gambling can cause. I will not compromise on the levy.”

Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on gambling harms, told the Mirror: “I am more than disappointed.

Carolyn Harris told the Mirror: “We’ve done it before and we can mobilise the support to make sure we do go to war with the government” ( Parliament Live)

“If this is true, they have missed a fantastic opportunity to completely change the gambling environment and to protect those who need our help.”

She suggested there could be a repeat of the last major revolt over fixed-odds betting machines – which almost derailed the 2018 Budget.

She said: “We’ve done it before and we can mobilise the support to make sure we do go to war with the government.

“We can’t allow this to continue”.

A review of the 2005 Gambling Act began in 2020 and is due to report back imminently. Ministers promised it in “the coming weeks” in late March.

Newcastle United shirts (file photo) ( Serena Taylor)

The review said Tory ministers would “seek evidence on the positive and negative outcomes” of betting firms’ logos appearing on football shirts.

It also said they would consider a statutory levy for funding addiction treatment, if the current voluntary system failed to deliver the funding necessary.

The Social Market Foundation think tank has argued “the current voluntary funding system lacks consistency, transparency, and accountability”.

But the review by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) prompted a strong lobbying operation from the gambling industry.

The Betting and Gaming Council highlighted figures saying problem gambling fell to 0.2% of the population, with 22.5million bets placed a month.

Chief executive Michael Dugher said the review was an “important opportunity to further raise standards”.

But he said earlier this month: “A small but noisy anti-gambling lobby are demanding draconian restrictions for an activity they don’t approve of.”

Estimates published by the government in September suggest 409 suicides a year in England are “associated with problem gambling”.

They also suggested there were “212,511 people with depression and problem or at-risk gambling”.

Terminals in a betting shop (file photo) ( Getty Images)

Combined, the cost of this suicide and depression to the economy in England was estimated at more than £950million a year.

Matt Zarb-Cousin of the Clean Up Gambling group said: “The whole reason this gambling review came about was to address issues caused by an online gambling sector that has not been prepared to reduce harm voluntarily.

“If both the levy for treatment and restrictions on advertising are left up to voluntarily arrangements, then this review spanning two years will have been a waste of time.

“Government should be listening to the evidence from leading clinicians and implementing an independently administered statutory levy, and ending gambling advertising in football.”

A DCMS spokesperson said: “We are undertaking the most comprehensive review of gambling laws in 15 years to ensure they are fit for the digital age.

“We will be publishing a White Paper as part of a review of gambling legislation in the coming weeks.”

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