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Progress Report on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms

ABSG progress report 2020

  1. Contents
  2. Funding


ABSG19, the Gambling Commission20, and many other stakeholders, including parts of industry21, have advocated the need for a statutory levy to replace the existing voluntary arrangements. This would provide sustainable funding for independent research, and long-term delivery of prevention and treatment services through statutory bodies working in partnership with accredited third sector organisations.

Although the voluntary system remains in place, the National Strategy is being delivered in an environment where funding arrangements are in a state of transition. With 2019/20 seeing significant developments in funding arrangements:

  • In December 2019, Lord Chadlington announced that a new charity would be established to administer an estimated £60 million fund pledged to address harms by the ‘big five’ gambling operators. In June 2020, the Betting and Gaming Council announced that its five largest members would deliver a £100 million fund through GambleAware over five years22. These announcements have the potential to significantly change the funding landscape, but there is ongoing uncertainty about timeframes, exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the gambling industry. As yet, no new money has been forthcoming. It has been disappointing to see no explicit link in either announcement to the National Strategy itself, nor any mention of the critical need for investment in prevention.
  • In January 2020, the Commission made changes to its guidance, which clarified the range of organisations that can receive voluntary donations from operators. Revised criteria, and a list of bodies that could demonstrate that they met these criteria, was published. The impact of this change on the distribution of funding is yet to be observed.
  • In October 2019, GambleAware indicated at an evidence session at the House of Lords Select Committee23, that its long-term objective was to reduce its commissioning of research and restrict future research funding to evaluation of its own treatment and other services, creating greater independence from industry donations.

Uncertainty remains about the future of the funding system for research, prevention and treatment. A continuing reliance on a voluntary system, wherever that may be situated is, in our view, not sustainable24. Concerns continue about independence, predictability and the quantum of funding, and in the absence of a levy, there are significant limitations on the scale of action that can be taken25. Activity to reduce gambling harms must still compete with other priorities in statutory health and public health budgets, and the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and public services is likely to be significant.


19 Advice on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, RGSB, February 2019

20 Launch of the National Strategy to Reduce gambling Harms, Speeches, Gambling Commission, April 2019

21 RGA urge funding levy to combat problem gambling, iGamingTimes

22 Latest news, Betting and gaming Council, June 2020

23 Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry, House of Lords, 29 October 2019, p12 and p13

24 Advice on a statutory levy, ABSG

25 House of Lords - Written Answers - Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Monday 4 May 2020

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