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GambleAware sets out plans for BGC member funding commitments

| By Robert Fletcher
British gambling charity GambleAware has revealed further details of funding commitments from four leading members of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) and how this will be used to support its ongoing work.

Bet365, Entain, Flutter Entertainment and William Hill in June last year said they would commit £100m (€112.2m/$136.4m) to improving treatment services for problem gamblers in Britain.

At the time, it was agreed GambleAware would serve as the main commissioning agent for ensuring that the funds reach people who require the counselling and treatment.

In a letter to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gambling-related Harms, GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches revealed that the operators have so far donated £2.2m in the first three quarters of the 2020-21 financial year.

Etches added that this total is expected to reach £5m before the end of the fourth quarter on 31 March. For 2021-22, Etches said GambleAware expects to receive a minimum of £10m in donations, then £25m in 2022-23 and £35m in 2023-24.

These amounts correspond to the operators agreeing to donate between 0.1% and 0.25% of gross gambling yield (GGY) in 2020, then 0.5% in 2021, 0.75% in 2022 and 1% in 2023.

“GambleAware is working with the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS to ensure the best use of this pledged funding, and to align and integrate the expansion of treatment services across the whole system so patients get the right treatment at the right time,” Etches said in the letter.

The amount set out is £25m below the figure agreed in June last year, but in a letter dated 31 July 2020, BGC chair Brigid Simmonds said that the percentages applied to GGY over the four years are uncertain in terms of year-to-year GGY.

Simmonds added that this has been exacerbated by the impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“We intend on updating an amended figure each year, so this should be seen as a floor to funding with additional funding spread out over years two to four,” Simmonds said.

“The large operators have shown a strong commitment to increasing RET and we will look to encourage more operators across the industry to demonstrate their own commitment in a way that makes more funds available for funding the effort to make gambling safer and the provision of treatment that goes with it.”

As such, Etches said the remaining £25m balance would be spread between the period from April 2021 and March 2024, due to the current uncertainties related to the economic impact of Covid-19.

“For its part, GambleAware plans to publish a new Strategic Commissioning Plan in April 2021 that will detail the charity’s objectives for commissioning prevention and treatment services during the next five years,” Etches said.

However, the APPG in a response on Twitter said it still wishes to see a statutory smart levy – as proposed in its June 2020 report – and that increase in funding had been too slow.

Publication of the letter comes after GambleAware this week revealed operators donated a total of £4.5m during the first three quarters of its 2020-21 financial year.

Flutter Entertainment topped the list of donations after handing over £874,000 to the charity in the nine months to 31 December 2020.

Bet365 followed with £763,000, then William Hill on £540,000, though the latter has pledged to donate a total of £1.0m during the 2020-21.

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