GambleAware Could Reduce Programs as UK’s NHS Cuts Funding

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The National Health Services (NHS) in the UK is distancing itself from the gambling industry. A report by The Sunday Times indicates that the NHS will likely announce that it will not accept funds or donations from charities related to the UK gambling industry. This means that funding for problem gambling education, treatment and research (RET) programs are in danger of being restructured. It could also lead to GambleAware having to rethink how it does business.

NHS Cuts Off Gambling Industry

According to the media outlet, the NHS governors will “rubber-stamp” the decision this week so ties for the new fiscal year are cut. This decision was taken to preserve the integrity of NHS’ network addiction clinics and further medical research.

This surprise decision will see the NHS cut off its relationship with GambleAware. GambleAware co-funded the NHS’ launch of the problem gambling service’ in 2019. The NHS also committed £1 million ($1.34 million) to create a dedicated problem gambling RET Clinic in Leeds.

Three additional dedicated clinics have been opened by GambleAware and the NHS, in London, Manchester and Sunderland, since 2019. These clinics are essential for expanding support for gambling disorders and enhancing the facilities available to them.

The charity is subject to a ‘framework arrangement’ with the UK Gambling Commission to support the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. This requires licensed operators to make voluntary contributions to GambleAware’s RET program support services and national campaigns.

GambleAware published its 2020/2021 accounts and revealed that it had received £19 million ($25.58 million) in voluntary donations by UK gambling operators.

According to the Sunday Times, from March 2021 to March 2021, the NHS was given £1.3 million ($1.42 million) by gambling companies via the industry-funded charity Gamble Aware to finance its clinics.

Surprise Move Welcomed by Clinicians

Professor Henrietta Bowden Jones, the director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, reportedly supports the NHS decision to end its partnership with GambleAware. She was quoted by the media outlet as saying, “NHS clinicians have been asking for a very long time for the independence of funding from industry.”

Further developments include The Lancet medical journal publishing a paper next month that addresses the urgent need to conduct independent research on problem gambling. Most of the research conducted now is led by either pro- or anti-gambling groups and is subjective to their desired outcomes.

GambleAware identifies the need for more academic research and insight as a key objective. Last year, it launched a £4-million ($5.37 million) fund to provide grants for universities and independent institutions that specialize in the area of gambling harms.

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