Operators commit to £60m problem gambling fund

Five of the UK’s biggest operators have committed to a joint problem gambling fund. Bet365, Flutter, GVC, SkyBet, and William Hill have all agreed to a £60m problem gambling treatment programme. The funding is expected to total £100m by 2023.

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Five major UK bookmakers have committed to providing much more towards problem gambling treatment. © Pixabay.

The BBC initially broke the news of the plan last month and the bookmakers met with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) earlier this month to construct the package. The payments represent a ten-fold increase in the bookmakers current problem gambling voluntary contributions. Currently, operators only commit 0.1% of their gross gambling yield (GGY). This is set to increase to 1% of GGY by 2023.

Operators will continue to commit the 0.1% of GGY to problem gambling charity GambleAware. The remaining 0.9% is thought to be spent on research, education, and treatment initiatives. The operators have also made individual commitments in many areas, such as advertising, transparency, and data sharing.

Operators will also review the “tone and content of all their marketing, advertising and sponsorship” to increase and improve the safer gambling messages contained in their advertisements.

Speaking about the programme, Marc Etches, chief executive of GambleAware, said:

We welcome this initiative by the leading operators as it’s essential there is sufficient funding to provide for treatment and support for both problem gamblers and for those who are ‘at risk’ – particularly the young and vulnerable. Customers should be able to gamble in a safe environment, where help and advice is readily available at the point of need.Marc Etches, GambleAware chief executive

Operators were warned earlier this month that they could be taxed to pay for addiction treatment. However, the industry appears to have known it should act and is taking the initiative. Speaking about this move, Peter Jackson, CEO of Flutter, said:

The whistle-to-whistle advertising ban was a good start, now we are funding a significant expansion in treatment and we continue to work on a number of areas of collaboration and best practice. Our aim is nothing less than a step change in how we tackle gambling-related harm.Peter Jackson, Flutter CEO

However, some are still pushing for a mandatory levy. Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour party, welcomed the news, but said that only a mandatory level will bring the “guarantees of consistent funding and a proper structure”.

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