Redirecting $125 million to GambleAware “in a last-minute call” has prompted addiction experts in the UK to raise an alarm over the gambling industry’s clout in how money dedicated to stemming problem gambling is used.
Gambling Firms Have Too Much Say in Directing Funding, Say Experts
Following the news from a week ago that industry leaders were allocating over $125 million to help fight gambling addiction, experts have cautioned that the voluntary gesture was a case in point of how the gambling industry exerted too much influence on how money is spent.
A number of companies have stepped forward contributing the money outside their regular duties to tackling gambling harm in the country. Among those who participated were SkyBet, William Hill, Flutter, GVC, and Bet365.
Meanwhile, there has been a call for gambling firms to generally step up their efforts and contribute 1% of their income to fund addiction research. However, experts focused on the fact that the gambling firms originally promised to forward the money to Action against Gambling Harm (AGH).
As it turns out, though, the money will be going to respected charity GambleAware. The change in funding has prompted experts to question whether the industry doesn’t already have too much clout and say in what happens with funding.
Action against Gambling Harm or GambleAware
The news that the money would be going to a different body instead was revealed by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) earlier this month. This has prompted the indignation of experts who addressed an open letter to culture minister Oliver Dowden and health secretary Matt Hancock arguing that the latest decision by gambling firms “underlined why a statutory levy was needed.”
The letter continued by arguing that regardless of which organization ended up receiving the money, the move highlighted another issue. It “exemplifies the long-standing weakness of a funding system” that allows the gambling industry to regulate how “vital funds” earmarked for addressing gambling harm are handled.
In the letter, a group of over 40 academics and addiction experts have asked for the creation of a mandatory levy and the independent distribution of any funds contributed by gambling firms towards addressing gambling harm. The letter cites UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health Research as the two institutions suited to distribute the money.
As to the AGH, the organization had no knowledge that gambling firms would end up shifting the pledged money to another organization. However, the BGC explained that gambling firms had had their change of heart after a discussion with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The name of Lord Chadlington, the founder of AGH, was also brought up. The council argued that the AGH was ill-equipped to carry out any research into gambling harm at the present moment and allocating the money to that body would be not ideal.
Since the AGH also lacks the regulatory approval to carry out research, education and treatment (RET) of problem gambling, the BGC decided to redirect the money to another cause.
The announcement has prompted a polemic on social media with several experts addressing Michael Dugher, chief executive at the Betting and Gaming Council directly, and often arguing outside the good tone of voice.