The UK Gambling Commission has allocated some £33 million to GambleAware ahead of the introduction of a proposed mandatory levy on gambling operators.
As the industry prepares for the transition to the mandatory percentage levy on gambling revenues for operators, the award provides GambleAware with key funding to support raising awareness of gambling harms and funding treatment and support services for those suffering from gambling addiction.
In response, GambleAware has launched an application process for a new system stabilisation fund, which aims to support organisations across the country that rely on funding to continue their work.
Current state of play
At present, GambleAware is funded by voluntary contributions from the gambling sector, with the biggest names in the industry contributing as part of their obligations to social responsibility—without compulsion from the regulator or the government.
However, recent government proposals raised the concept of a statutory levy, which will see operators required by law to contribute a proportion of their revenues to the cause. It's argued that this levy should also be applied to the National Lottery.
The funding award comes amid concerns during the transition from voluntary to statutory funding, designed “to ring-fence a proportion of the funding to help stabilise the system of gambling harm prevention, support and treatment.”
Chief Executive of GambleAware, Zoe Osmond, said the funding was necessary in the interim, to avoid funding gaps during the transitory period.
“We welcome plans for a statutory levy as outlined in the government’s gambling white paper and look forward to its swift implementation.”
“However, this has led to a period of change as industry and the gambling harms research, prevention and treatment sector prepare to transition to the proposed levy. Our role as strategic commissioner across the sector means we are able to apply a single overview of the system.”
“With this oversight, we and the Gambling Commission, recognise the uncertainty across the sector, and the need to ensure current projects can continue without any risk of experiencing a funding shortfall.”
Allocating the funding
The funding process has been opened up to applications, which are invited from organisations currently working in gambling prevention, support and treatment. In order to be considered for an award, organisations must show they are meeting a number of key funding criteria:
- Increasing gambling harm awareness and understanding
- Preventing gambling harm amongst vulnerable individuals and groups
- Preventing the escalation of gambling harms
- Offering appropriate services
- Reducing the legacy of gambling harms
Applicants must also demonstrate that they need funding, explain their approach and how they intend to deliver the funded programme, value for money and the sustainability of their service in the long term.
For organisations already operating support or awareness programmes around problem gambling, the funding process aims to provide access to another pot of money to see through the challenging transition period, ahead of the levy being introduced.
With £33 million on the table to fund suitable programmes and organisations nationwide, the funding award from the Gambling Commission will go a long way to supporting tackling the problems around the dangers associated with gambling.
The role of the gambling industry in responsible gambling
Responsible gambling is more than just a buzzword and gambling operators must take proactive steps under the terms of their licences to prevent gambling harms.
Until now, the industry has funded charity and third-sector support for gambling awareness, treatment and support. This has been conducted on a voluntary model for the most part, with gambling companies choosing to spend a percentage of their takings on responsible gambling.
But in recent years and months, the regulator has become altogether more interested in funding, and in particular around moves to firm up donations from industry into legislative commitments—moves that have carried the support of significant voices within the industry itself.
Problem gambling and spreading the message of responsible gambling are obligations incumbent on both regulators and the industry. Sharing the load allows for a broader reach of messaging and support, as well as funding, to provide the services people need to stay out of harm’s way when gambling.
With a thriving legal gambling sector in the UK, it is in the interest of gambling operators to continue to support these causes and to fund them where possible through their own revenues.
For regulators and government, it goes some way towards solving the social problems that can and do exist around problematic gambling, without introducing a higher burden on general taxation.
Ultimately, all interests are aligned towards reducing the impact of gambling harms on society. The new £33 million fund should help in this regard, ahead of the transition to a firmer regulatory obligation.