William Hill’s partnership with charity The Alzheimer’s Society has drawn criticism from MPs and health practitioners stating that betting should hold no connection with dementia, according to a report in The Times.
Last spring, a newly relaunched ‘William Hill Foundation’ announced The Alzheimer’s Society as a lead partner seeking to raise the charity £2 million over a three-year period.
Helping the partnership as a part of its ‘Nobody Harmed’ social responsibility corporate directive, William Hill would launch an Alzheimer’s awareness campaign fronted by brand ambassador Robbie Savage.
In its 2020 corporate guidance, the FTSE bookmaker underlined that it seeks to become a leading UK dementia-friendly business organisation.
“We are working with the Alzheimer’s Society to become the leading Dementia Friendly business in our industry, helping those with dementia to sustain their normal activities for as long as possible, such as visiting their local betting shop, while minimising at-risk behaviours.” – William Hill stated in its 2019 company report.
Leading the NHS National Problem Gambling Clinic, Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones branded the partnership as inappropriate and insensitive to dementia sufferers.
“The notion that a person suffering from this should be encouraged to gamble responsibly is ludicrous and from a safeguarding perspective of grave concern,” Bowden-Jones told The Times.
Supporting Bowden-Jones’ criticism, Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm, would brand the William Hill’s collaboration as a ‘dreadful idea’.
Harris, who is recognised as the prominent figurehead pushing for wholesale industry reforms, stated that it was inconceivable for a mental health charity to believe that betting shops are ‘appropriate place for dementia patients’.
“This is exploitation of the most vulnerable,” Harris said. “Many will be seeking company and to suggest that the bookies is where they will be welcomed and safe beggars’ belief.”
An under-fire Alzheimer’s Society maintains that beyond vital fundraising its collaboration with the William Hill Foundation has focused on support and staff training, being able to recognise and protect the sufferers of dementia and related diseases.
Alex Hyde-Smith of the Alzheimer’s Society responded: “People with dementia tell us that they want to continue doing the things they enjoy and stay involved in their communities. As a charity, we have a duty to respond by influencing the betting agenda through education and awareness.
“The point of and benefit of this partnership is to provide the support and training its staff need to deliver the right environment and protections so the 850,000 people living with dementia can enjoy themselves, safely, protected from the threat of financial harm.”