The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has launched a new era of responsible gambling as four leading operators in the UK have pledged £ 100 million to be spent on improving treatment support services.
GambleAware will receive the £ 100 million investment, backed by bet365, Flutter Entertainment, GVC Holdings, and William Hill, and will be the exclusive commissioning agent to ensure that funds meet those needing counselling and care.
It will form part of the ‘2019 pledge’ of operators to increase funding for research, education and treatment (RET) by expanding their levy contributions over the next five years from 0.1 percent to 1 percent.
Flutter Entertainment CEO Peter Jackson said: “GambleAware has a long track record in commissioning treatment services and working with providers for the benefit of problem gamblers.
“Through the provision of this unprecedented level of financial support, we aim to achieve a step-change in the treatment and counselling available to those experiencing gambling-related harm.
“As an industry, we are taking significant strides to build in further protections for customers. From increasing safer gambling messages in response to Covid-19, to a £10 million nationwide education initiative targeting all 11-19 years olds across the country, we are creating a safer environment for our customers while devoting resources to protecting the vulnerable and under-age.”
The BGC has also confirmed that during this financial year £2.5 million will be made available for the new educational programmes of YGAM and GamCare.
BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher emphasised that the latest investment underlines the commitment of the sector to strengthen the treatment of gambling issues. He said: “As the new body representing the regulated betting and gaming industry, we are committed to driving up standards.
“This latest funding commitment is yet more evidence of the industry’s determination to improve the quality and provision of treatment for problem gamblers – and of our members’ eagerness to get on with it as quickly as possible.”
The BGC has announced, in support of new RET measures, that an additional £3.8 million of funding would go to the ‘BetRegret 2020’ promotional campaign to promote healthier gambling and alert the public about at-risk gambling behaviours.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock welcomed increased support and joint initiatives from the industry, who added: “I’ve seen first hand how problem gambling can damage people’s mental health and affect the lives of those around them – and I’ve been determined to help protect vulnerable people from the impacts.
“So I’m delighted the Betting and Gaming Council is taking these steps to support treatment and provision for problem gamblers. The Government will continue to tackle the consequences of problem gambling by rolling out specialist services on the NHS, which will offer expert care and treatment for those who need it.”
DCMS Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston, meanwhile, encouraged broader betting incumbents to follow suit on RET obligations by saying: “We have been clear that the gambling industry has a responsibility to protect people from gambling-related harm and support those who have been affected.
“DCMS will monitor closely the progress of these new measures and continue to encourage the wider industry to step up.”
Brigid Simmonds, chairman of the BGC, said: “It is a credit to our large members that they remain committed to increased funding for RET and to the promises made to the Secretary of State for £100 million to go to funding treatment over the next four years.
“Ensuring that GambleAware are the main beneficiaries of this announcement recognises their independence, their links with the Department of Health and Social Care and health professionals and their acknowledged expertise as a commissioning body.”