Bettor collaboration… GVC backs Safer Online Gambling Group

FTSE100 gambling group GVC Holdings Plc has strengthened its ongoing ‘Changing for the Bettor’ corporate campaign by partnering with new industry non-profit organisation Safer Online Gambling Group (SOGG).

Founded this year, SOGG is a public health non-profit formed by father and son team, David and Adam Bradford, to raise awareness and collaboration across all UK health networks on tackling problem gambling-related harms.

SOGG will support GVC’s ‘Changing for the Bettor’ initiatives on the treatment of problem gambling, supporting research and developing safer gambling software – with GVC announcing that it will fund SOGG to develop ‘specifically tailored digital therapy tools for any individual showing signs of problematic play’.

The partnership forms part of GVC’s global safer gambling campaign which includes a $5 million investment with Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addiction over the next five years.

Grainne Hurst, GVC’s Director of Responsible Gambling, said: “We believe that it is vital to increase collaboration between operators, regulators and independent treatment  providers and are very pleased to be able to partner with SOGG and support their development of digital therapy tools to treat problem gambling behaviour.”

In its update, GVC highlights the need for the industry to treat ‘harm reduction as a legislative requirement’, pointing to disparities between funding of New Zealand and UK problem gambling support structures.

“The annual budget for the prevention of gambling harms is over $NZ18m (£9.3m; €10.7m; $12m) for a population of 4.7 million,” Hurst continued. “By contrast, in 2017-18 Britain had £8m for gambling research, education, and treatment for a population of 65 million; less than £1.5m was spent on prevention activity.

“This funding relies on voluntary contributions from industry. GVC is the only operator to volunteer to donate 1% (20m) of its gross gambling revenue (GGR) by 2022, to fund research, education and treatment – this is ten times the current requirement.”

As a new industry safe gambling organisation, SOGG aims to provide a platform to drive communication and action between all stakeholders tackling gambling harm illnesses, including families affected by gambling and policymakers.

Former online gambling addict, David Bradford, 62, said: “Online gambling became a devastating addiction for me. In many cases, an addict will not know they have a problem until it’s too late. Psychologically, it takes you over. GVC’s commitment to funding pioneering treatment centres and exploring technologies that may seem a problem in the making is good news, and I’m pleased that they have asked SOGG to work alongside them.”

His son Adam Bradford, a social entrepreneur and activist, added: “We know first-hand just how devastating the effects out of control online gambling are on the wider family. Many, like my dad, keep their addiction secret – we only found out about his problems through a report on the front page of the local newspaper.

“SOGG aims to be a credible and trustworthy critical friend to the industry, but not afraid to campaign on behalf of families affected by a gambling addiction who are too often left without a voice. We know we can make change happen, having contributed to the successful campaign to bring the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals stake down and the rollout of an NHS gambling clinic as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.”

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