The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has launched a new era for responsible gambling as the UK’s four leading operators have pledged to spend £100 million on improving treatment support services.
The £100 million funding, which is backed by bet365, Flutter Entertainment, GVC Holdings and William Hill, will be issued to GambleAware who will be the main commissioning agent for ensuring funds reach those that require counselling and treatment.
It will form part of the operators’ ‘2019 pledge’ to increase research, education and treatment (RET) funding by expanding their levy contributions from 0.1% to 1% over the next five years.
Peter Jackson, CEO of Flutter Entertainment, 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.”
In addition, the BGC confirmed that £2.5 million will be made available to YGAM and GamCare’s new educational programmes during this financial year.
BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher emphasised that the new funding highlights the industry’s determination to improve problem gambling treatment. 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.”
Supporting new RET initiatives, the BGC also confirmed that an additional £3.8 million of funding will be directed to the ‘BetRegret 2020’ advertising campaign to encourage safer gambling and warn the public of at-risk gambling behaviours.
The industry’s enhanced funding and collaborative efforts have been welcomed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, 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.”
Meanwhile, DCMS Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston urged wider betting incumbents to follow suit on RET responsibilities by stating: “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.”