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Plans to ban gambling firms sponsoring football shirts in disarray after Tory rift

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theguardian.com

Ministers’ plans for reforming Britain’s gambling laws were in disarray on Wednesday, as a rift emerged at the top of Conservative party over whether to ban football shirt sponsorship and impose a levy to fund addiction services.Multiple sources said the process of putting the finishing touches to a white paper on gambling reform had driven a wedge between departments and senior MPs, with the publication deadline just weeks away.The government is expected to adopt measures including bet limits of between £2 and £5 on online slot machine and casino games, and affordability checks to ensure punters do not spiral into financial ruin.

Inducements, such as free bets or VIP perks are also likely to be banned for customers who are losing heavily.But MPs pushing for stricter reform reacted angrily to a report in the Times that said football teams would be allowed to carry on displaying betting sponsor logos on their shirts and that – despite widespread support – there would be no compulsory levy to fund addiction research, education and treatment.Sources familiar with the draft proposals insisted both changes could still go ahead, adding that discussions with Premier League teams about sponsorship were “ongoing” and that the levy could survive, albeit limited to online firms rather than bricks-and-mortar casinos and bookmakers.However, final decisions are subject to frantic last-ditch lobbying from senior Tories, ahead of the white paper being published in mid-July. “The Treasury is opposed to those two elements,” said one MP with knowledge of the unfolding row.Officials at the Exchequer are concerned that the tax take could fall if the gambling industry’s £11bn-a-year winnings from British punters are reduced, the source said.T

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