ABSG Progress Report on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms – Year Two
6 - Funding
This year has seen continuing uncertainty over the distribution of voluntary contributions. In June 2020, the BGC announced that £100 million of industry funding would be invested in GambleAware over the coming four years51. GambleAware’s latest accounts shows that funding for 2020/21 was £19 million52. Although this is an increase of £9 million on previous years, the timing and volume of future donations remains uncertain, creating limitations for those dependent upon voluntary contributions to deliver prevention and treatment services.
These funds were originally pledged to Lord Chadlington’s charity in June 201953. There was no public rationale for this change, but it did prompt a response from many British-based academics who drew further attention to the weakness of a system funded by voluntary contributions54.
The uncertainty arising from such changes make long-term planning difficult and impedes involvement of well-established research funding and quality assurance infrastructure to improve our understanding of gambling harms. Early engagement with RCUK and NIHR funders was positive but seems to have not progressed beyond initial exploratory conversations.
In July 2020 the House of Lords Committee published its report, advocating an immediate change to funding arrangements55. Section 123 of the Gambling Act 2005 (opens in a new tab) allows the Secretary of State to make these changes which are permitted but have never been enacted.
In December 2020, ABSG published its advice to the Commission summarising the evidence and outlining the reasons for supporting a statutory system of funding for treatment, education and research56. We continue to have concerns that the Strategy will not achieve its aims without sustained, independent funding for all these.
51 Largest BGC members pledge £100million for treatment services (opens in new tab), Betting and Gaming Council, June 2020
52 GambleAware publishes donations for 2020-21 (opens in new tab), GambleAware, April 2021. £15.4 million of this comes from the largest four donors – Entain, William Hill, Flutter and Bet365. This suggests a high reliance on a small number of organisations and that voluntary donations from the remainder of the industry significantly lag behind these larger donors.
53 UK gambling firms offer to boost levy branded a bribe (opens in new tab), The Guardian, June 2019
54 Open letter from UK based academic scientists to the secretaries of state for digital, culture, media and sport and for health and social care regarding the need for independent funding for the prevention and treatment of gambling harms (opens in new tab), Wardle et al, British Medical Journal 2020:370, July 2020
55 Social and economic impact of the gambling industry (opens in new tab), House of Lords, July 2020
56 Advice to the Gambling Commission on a statutory levy, ABSG, December 2020
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Last updated: 28 June 2021
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