Leading operators to invest £100m to improve UK problem gambling services

15th June 2020 11:29 am GMT

The five largest members of the UK’s Betting and Gaming Council have committed to spending £100m to improve treatment services for problem gamblers across Britain.

Operators bet365, GVC, William Hill and Flutter Entertainment-owned Paddy Power Betfair and Sky Betting and Gaming will provide funds to the GambleAware charity, which will be the main commissioning agent for ensuring funds reach people who require counselling and treatment.

The five operators have already pledged to increase the amount they spend on research, education and treatment (RET) services from 0.1 per cent to 0.25 per cent of their annual revenue in 2020, 0.5 per cent in 2021, 0.75 per cent in 2022, and 1 per cent in 2023.

“GambleAware has a long track record in commissioning treatment services and working with providers for the benefit of problem gamblers,” said Flutter Entertainment CEO Peter Jackson. “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 £10m 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.”

The BGC has also confirmed that £2.5 million will be made available to the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) and GamCare gambling education project during this financial year.

In addition, the operators will continue to provide 0.1 per cent of their annual revenue to GambleAware’s funding of RET, while BGC members will give an additional £3.8m of funding to the BetRegret 2020 advertising campaign to encourage safer gambling.

“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,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock. “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.”

Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston commented: “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.

“I welcome the Betting and Gaming Council now outlining how it will deliver on leading operators’ pledges to bolster research, education and treatment. We will monitor closely the progress of these new measures and continue to encourage the wider industry to step up.”

BGC chairman Brigid Simmonds said it was a credit to its large members that they remain committed to increased funding for RET and to the promises made to the Secretary of State to deliver £100m to fund 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,” she said.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher added: “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.”

Shares in William Hill plc (LSE:WMH) were trading up 3.05 per cent at 139.12 pence per share in London Monday morning, while shares in Flutter Entertainment plc (LSE:FLTR) were trading down 1.26 per cent at 10,615.00p and shares in GVC Holdings (LSE:GVC) were up 3.27 per cent at 770.00 pence per share.

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