UK’s Self-Funded Problem Gambling Charity Comes Up Short

Last Friday, the GambleAware charity announced that its voluntary contributions from gambling operators in the United Kingdom over the 12 months ending March 31 totaled £9.6m. Even though this amount was “marginally more” than the amount that the charity had received in the previous 12-month period, it was well below the £10m target that the company had set. Furthermore, it was also well below the 0.1 percent share of the total gambling revenue that the licenses gambling operators in the United Kingdom are required to remit.

Most of the big names in the country’s gaming industry remitted considerably large amounts. Just to mention a few, they included: GVC Holdings (£1.46m), William Hill (£1m), Bet365 (£868k), Paddy Power Betfair (£445k), Gamesys (£437k), Camelot (£390k), 32Red (£384k), Genting (£212k) and The Stars Group (£125k).  Many others only made mere token contributions of around £250 while some firms even went as far as remitting between £1 and £5 just so that they could be featured on the list.

Other amounts received by the charity included £7.3m as its share of regulatory settlements between gambling operators. In addition to that, the United Kingdome Gambling Commission also meted out at least £27m in penalties in 2018 alone – the commission has recently dramatically ramped up its enforcement activity amid increasing pressure form responsible gambling campaigners and lawmakers.

What Does This Mean for GambleAware?

Well, despite not hitting its target, the charity organization will not be shutting down anytime soon. Instead, it has chosen to handle the issue by increasing its funding needs and this will be enforced by the UK Gambling Commission through its new National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms – this is a three-year program that the gaming commission announced last month. As per the terms of the new gambling commission strategy, there will be a “firm regulatory enforcement approach” towards the gaming operators that will be reluctant to remit the required amounts to the charity.

The Mandatory Levy

The GambleAware announcement which details a clear failure of the voluntary levy system comes just a week after a mandatory levy was proposed by the Labour Party.

“These companies are making billions and yet are refusing to contribute even 0.1% to support research, education, and treatment of gambling harms. The pittance contributed by some firms, and the complete absence of others from this list is frankly an insult to the voluntary system. We urgently need reform,” Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson said.

From the looks of it, there is a possibility that more serious discussion pertaining to the mandatory are on the way especially because of the laxity on the side of the gaming regulators. Reforms in that regards may eventually be enforced by the UK Gambling Commission in the not so distant future.