GambleAware response to gaming machines & social responsibility review announcement

GambleAware, (an independent charity tasked to fund research, education and treatment services to help minimise gambling-related harm in Great Britain) has responded to the Government’s announcement this morning in relation to its review of gaming machines and social responsibility.

In its response (that can be downloaded below), it stated that:

  • it supports the proposed consultation on reducing stake limits in order to reduce overall losses,
  • gambling related harm should be treated as a public health problem, like alcohol or obesity, working on prevention as well as treatment and
  • in relation to funding treatment, it is calling for a statutory levy, describing this as “something we’re pleased to see the Government considering if the industry does not step up its efforts”.

In addition, SBC News has today reported that Marc Etches, Chief Executive of GambleAware, has written the following open letter to industry stakeholders regarding current funding and future transparency:

Dear All

I am writing to let you know of our concerns regarding the current level of the industry’s funding of GambleAware, and actions we are taking to ensure greater transparency in the future. Specifically,

The current voluntary system is not delivering the level of funding the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) has determined is required to meet the demands placed on GambleAware by the National Responsible Gambling Strategy (the Strategy):

  • The industry fell 20% short last year (ending 31st March 2017);
  • Seven months into the current year (ending 31st March 2018) the industry is 60% short;
  • Such were our concerns about cash-flow in August, we notified the Gambling Commission.

The level of funding required in the future is likely to increase significantly:

  • The number of problem gamblers is now estimated at 430,000;
  • Less than 2% are receiving treatment, representing a significant gap in services;
  • With 2 million adults ‘at risk’ and nearly half a million 11 to 15-year-old children gambling every week in England and Wales (including 9,000 defined as ‘problem gamblers’), there is a need for a significant investment in education and harm-prevention activity.

From 1st April 2018, GambleAware will ask all companies to ‘self-certify’ what proportion of Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) their donations to GambleAware represents, and will publish details of donations on its website.

Given the charity’s objectives, trustees are mindful of what is in the best interests of those who it is committed to help when it comes to advocating for the continuation of the current ‘voluntary donation’ arrangements. While some companies are relatively generous, the industry more widely has yet to demonstrate that it is sufficiently willing to meet the current target, much less that it is minded to voluntarily meet the increased funding that will be necessary to improve research, education and treatment services to the extent that GambleAware and others think appropriate.

On this basis, GambleAware has determined that it would wish to see the introduction of a statutory levy. Trustees have made this position clear to both the Gambling Commission and RGSB. In the meantime, we will continue to work positively and collaboratively to encourage all gambling companies to contribute a full and fair share of the relatively modest cost of funding GambleAware to deliver what it has been tasked by the Strategy.

Yours sincerely,