Mixed messages have emanated from GambleAware in the last few days, albeit with a common theme.
Its open letter to the gambling industry, praising the record-breaking £9.4 million response to last year’s concerns regarding voluntary funding for problem gambling initiatives was followed just a few days later by a less than complimentary speech given by its Chief Executive Marc Etches at the Lotteries Council Conference on 19 April, in which he:
- called on society lotteries and ELMs to donate to GambleAware a minimum of 0.1% of their annual gross gambling revenue, i.e. their total lottery proceeds MINUS prizes MINUS contributions to good causes, and
- claimed that if donations had been made at that rate in the last year, GambleAware would have received over £185,000 from the lotteries sector, equating to more than 100 times the £1,800 total annual donation received by GambleAware from the Lotteries Council last year (the equivalent to an approximate annual donation of £5 per member).
He described as a “misconception” the idea that safer gambling measures are not relevant to lotteries, stating:
“It is my contention that the lotteries sector has a particular responsibility when it comes to the promotion of safer gambling and the protection of your players. I say this on the basis that:
- lottery products are gambling products,
- lottery products in total are participated in by more people than any other gambling product,
- given the overall number of participants, and the nature of ‘problem gamblers’ to play on multiple products, the lottery sector has more contact with ‘problem gamblers’ than any other gambling sector”.
Both GambleAware’s open letter and Marc Etches’ Lotteries Council speech can be downloaded below. As we have already reported, at the same conference, Tim Miller, Executive Director of the Gambling Commission, delivered a speech in which he suggested that the lotteries sector “could lead the way in restoring some public trust in [the gambling] industry”.
Whether a statutory levy to fund research, education and treatment of problem gambling will replace the current voluntary funding is a moot point, following developments in December last year when:
- Tracey Crouch MP (DCMS Minister for Sport and Civil Society) spoke at the fifth annual GambleAware Harm Minimisation conference, urging all gambling operators to contribute at least the recommended voluntary donation of 0.1% of their GGY to GambleAware in order to avoid an underfunding crisis, describing the industry being in “the last chance saloon on this” and
- the RGA subsequently called on the Government to introduce a statutory levy to ensure that the National Responsible Gambling Strategy is properly funded.