May 16, 2023 3 min read

DCMS Receives Feedback from Leading Charities

GambleAware, GamCare, and Gordon Moody criticized the recent white paper, sharing their concerns over rising addiction rates

Gambling treatment service providers have offered recommendations to the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) during an oral evidence session, calling for further measures to address problem gambling. The charities shared their data, noting that problem gambling rates had peaked. However, rising pressure to quickly implement the white paper means the government may be unable to introduce significant changes.

The UK Faces Ongoing Challenges

Charity representatives noted that the rising demand for gambling harm treatment services likely correlated with a rise in problem gambling rates. Gambling treatment provider Gordon Moody CEO Matthew Hickey stated that the number of people seeking help had more than doubled compared to the pre-COVID period. While raising awareness is a factor, the sudden spike likely reflects a deeper societal problem.

We would guess… that there are substantially more out there that need help, who have either not realized that they need help or are hiding their addiction.

Matthew Hickey, CEO of Gordon Moody

Despite ongoing efforts, the remaining stigma surrounding gambling addiction poses another significant challenge, often preventing suffering individuals from seeking timely help. According to a March report by the charity GamCare, gambling harm was significantly more dangerous to disadvantaged communities, with many minorities suffering disproportionate effects. 

The continuing cost-of-living crisis further exacerbates gambling’s social impact, sometimes forcing people to wager to avoid basic necessities. GamCare CEO Anna Hemmings noted that additional research was imperative for evaluating the issue’s prevalence across the country, its geographic distribution, and its impact on various groups.

GambleAware chief commissioner Anna Hargrave likewise focused on gambling harm’s broader implications, adding that the charity’s addiction hotline received roughly 41,000 yearly calls. She urged operators to maintain voluntary contributions during the white paper transition period, ensuring treatment and prevention services remained operational.

Political Pressures May Hamper Immediate Reforms

Overall, the treatment service providers largely mirror the criticisms regarding the recently published white paper. While the DCMS committee’s probe will provide valuable information regarding the country’s gambling-related issues, significant changes to the document remain unlikely. With the UK government hard-pressed to avoid further delays, adding new text to the already contentious legislation will only draw additional ire.

United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) executive director Tim Miller noted that the ongoing consultations aimed to introduce carefully planned and consulted policy changes. He added that his team would do their best to implement approved recommendations, but advancing the white paper’s existing requirements took precedence.

The recommendations made by treatment providers highlight the need for continued improvement. Despite the ongoing challenges, the government has reiterated its commitment to protecting customers, meaning the charities’ voices will hopefully not stay unheard. Hopefully, these organizations will continue to provide their invaluable contributions and continue their mission to treat and prevent problem gambling.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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