The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has allocated £32,844,197.31 to GambleAware for the creation of a ‘system stabilisation’ in regards to a transition period from voluntary funding to a statutory levy.
This is the latest allocation of funds gained by the UKGC through regulatory settlements, and is intended to “stabilise the system of gambling harm prevention, support and treatment” during the changeover. A previous high of $8.8m was also issued to GambleAware in April 2020.
A statutory levy to fund research, education and treatment (RET) was one of the biggest and most highly debated changes of the UK gambling white paper review of the 2005 Gambling Act.
Zoë Osmond, Chief Executive of GambleAware, previously called for the government to “move with urgency” regarding a range of consultations associated with the white paper, the first of which were addressed earlier in the week.
She said: “We welcome government plans to introduce a statutory levy as outlined in its Gambling white paper, which will help provide stable funding.”
Currently, operators are requested to donate 0.1 per cent of their gross gambling yield, while those with an annual GGY of less than £250,000 are requested to donate a minimum of £250. A statutory levy would make it mandatory for such organisations to provide funds.
“We hope that changes will be made swiftly, as any significant delay in moving to the statutory levy risks slowing down the pace at which we have been, and plan to continue, transforming prevention and treatment services as outlined in our five-year organisational strategy,” Osmond continued.
The UKGC funding to GambleAware, which was also joined by NHS England in welcoming a statutory levy, would also accelerate plans to reduce “inequalities in outcomes, experience and access”. The charity would also look to improve access to treatment services through digital transformation and research.
In detailing the allocation of funds, the UKGC also disclosed three priority areas for research. These are continuing to build the evidence base on gambling harms, system research to inform commissioning or service provision and evidence translation and dissemination.
Annual reports will be published to demonstrate value for money and progress against the objectives of the funds, the regulator updated.
The UKGC breakdown regarding destinations of funding gained via regulatory settlements, which are to be applied for socially responsible purposes, date back to March 2019.
Last week, Betfred was ordered to pay a £3.25m UK Gambling Commission regulatory settlement after an investigation discovered a series of failings between January 2021 and December 2022.
This became the latest in a slew of financial penalties handed down by the UKGC this year, with Star Racing and a £594,000 financial penalty Videoslots, via a $2m sanction, and SkillOnNet (£305,150) among the latest to fall foul.
Earlier in the year, 888 vowed to continue collaborative efforts alongside the regulator after the William Hill Group received a record £19.2m penalty for an array of social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.
The financial punishment, which surpassed the £17m issued to Entain last year, saw Mr Green pay £3.7m, while William Hill’s online business penalised £12.5m and a further £3m was aligned to the company’s retail operations.
This followed 10bet’s £620,000 penalty package, Intouch Games being handed down a financial penalty of £6.1m, a third in four years; TonyBet being penalised £442,750 and Vivaro, trading as VBet, making payments in lieu of a penalty package of £337,631. The Commission also penalised the Kindred Group’s Unibet and 32Red brands a combined £7.1m.