Gambling charity GambleAware received £46.5 million in donations for the year ending 31 March 2023, according to new figures published this week, reflecting an increasing commitment from the industry to tackling the harms of problem gambling.
The organisation, which works with organisations providing advice and support to those with gambling addiction as well as their families, published the figures in a list of donations from operators working within the UK, including some of the biggest names in casino and sports betting.
Chief amongst the donors were four major operators - Flutter, Bet365, Entain and William Hill—together contributing 92% of the total.
The news comes in light of recent proposals in the UK government’s Gambling White Paper, which would require UK operators to contribute 1% of revenue in the form of a statutory levy - money that would be used as a way of funding more research and support for problem gambling issues.
The proposals have been warmly received by GambleAware, which is urging the government to move with pace in putting a legal requirement on operators to contribute, rather than relying on voluntary donations as is the case today.
In welcoming the donations, Zoë Osmond, Chief Executive of GambleAware, said the funding would help the charity continue to deliver targeted programmes addressing gambling harms.
“As the leading independent charity and strategic commissioner of gambling harm prevention and treatment across Great Britain, funding is key to ensure the effective delivery of the National Gambling Support Network and our many other programmes of work to address and prevent gambling harm.”
“We welcome government plans to introduce a statutory levy as outlined in its Gambling White Paper, which will help provide stable funding. We hope that changes will be made swiftly, as any significant delay in moving to the statutory levy risks slowing down the pace at which we have been, and plan to continue, transforming prevention and treatment services as outlined in our five-year organisational strategy."
The donations from the major operators are up from a combined total of £30.9m the previous year, part of their commitment to reaching a voluntary 1% of Gross Gambling Yield by 2023/24.
With the UK government now circling around similar numbers as a matter of law, it looks like the wider industry could soon be forced to follow in their footsteps.
Funding Support for Gambling Addiction
While gambling is an enjoyable pastime for the vast majority who take part, from casino and sports betting to online bingo, there is a minority of players who are seriously impacted by problem gambling and gambling addiction.
The effects of problem gambling have long since been established, and are often cited by the government as one of the driving forces behind increasing attempts to legislate for greater regulation of the industry.
For their part, the larger gambling operators have been proactive in embracing organisations like GambleAware, and in funding support programmes, awareness campaigns and other measures designed specifically to limit the impacts of problem gambling on those affected.
With the new white paper, the UK government seems to be following this lead, with strong indications that a legislative basis for contributions from all UK operators could soon be established.
What GambleAware Is Doing To Tackle Problem Gambling
GambleAware is an independent charitable body which funds organisations working in gambling addiction research and support. Working alongside organisations including the NHS, GambleAware is responsible for work in three main areas—all of which are aimed at reducing the social impact of problem gambling.
GambleAware commissions and funds the National Gambling Support Network, a nationwide group of organisations providing free and confidential support to those struggling with their gambling behaviours. They also work with relatives and friends of those affected by gambling, providing a range of support services to help mitigate the harms, and the fallout from them.
The National Gambling Helpline is free, open 24/7 and on-hand to handle support enquiries from those concerned - 0808 8020 133.
At a high level, GambleAware also develops public health campaigns around gambling harms, helping to raise awareness of the general signs of gambling problems, and the steps that can be taken in prevention and treatment. Often working alongside industry, GambleAware has funded national TV, radio and print advertising campaigns to this effect, helping raise the profile of problem gambling in a bid to prevent others from falling into gambling addiction.
Thirdly, the charity is tasked with organising research and improving knowledge and understanding of gambling addiction, with a view to identifying more effective strategies for the prevention of harm. The hope is that in time, with continued work on learning more about what causes problem gambling and how gambling addiction can be treated, the impacts of gambling addiction can be limited.
The news of the donations is a welcome step in the right direction and shows larger iGaming operators taking their social and moral responsibilities seriously. Ultimately, this is a problem the industry needs to do all it can to address, with or without legislation - and in fairness, many of the industry’s larger players are already going to some lengths.
With the UK government poised to apply even more pressure on operators to follow suit in supporting the excellent work of bodies like GambleAware in future, it looks like more will continue to be done to stamp out the challenges of gambling harms.