Industry big guns elaborate on safer gambling pledge

Five of the biggest names in the UK gambling industry have committed to new measures which will seek to fund an expansion of treatment for those displaying problem gambling behaviours. 

Bet365, Flutter Entertainment (Paddy Power and Betfair), GVC Holdings (Ladbrokes and Coral), Sky Betting and Gaming, and William Hill have all pledged to boost the funding for safer gambling measures by ten-fold, raising the current voluntary contribution of Gross Gambling Yield from 0.1 per cent to 1 per cent by 2023. 

Speaking on behalf of the five companies, Peter Jackson, CEO of Flutter Entertainment, commented: “This is an unprecedented level of commitment and collaboration by the leading companies in the British betting and gaming sector to address gambling-related harm and promote safer gambling.  

“The whistle-to-whistle advertising ban was a good start, now we are funding a significant expansion in treatment and we continue to work on a number of areas of collaboration and best practice. Our aim is nothing less than a step change in how we tackle gambling-related harm.”

The move follows negotiations with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) earlier this month. 

The five companies have outlined four key areas in which the additional £60m in funding will be distributed: treatment; advertising; transparency; and data sharing. Within the funding pledge, the five companies have also committed to contributing 0.1% of their GGY annually to GambleAware to support its existing treatment commitments and to continue its independent research programme.

Problem gambling treatment remains central to the funding commitment, with the five operators pledging a cumulative £100m on treatment in the next four years. As part of the pledge, the operators will collaborate with the DCMS and the Department for Health and Social Care to determine how funds are distributed towards support services for problem gamblers.

This will include established charities and those with lived experience.  The key priority will be to quadruple the numbers of those accessing treatment from 2.5 per cent to 10 per cent.

Part of the initiatives also concern advertising in the gambling industry, with the five companies also having agreed to boost the number of safer gambling messages across advertisements. This will include supporting dedicated campaigns, and reviewing the overall tone and content of all marketing, advertising and sponsorship deals.

The companies will support advertising technology, where it exists, to divert messages from problem gamblers.

Lord Chadlington, the Conservative peer who has been a leading advocate for safer gambling measures, commented: “This initiative should ensure that the necessary reforms to protect the young and vulnerable particularly with the growth of online gambling will be rooted in independent research – on everything from online gambling harms to associated suicide. That evidence base should also be used for education and for treatment.

“We must be certain” continued Lord Chadlington, “that through the consultation process, a means is secured for the funds to be administered and the programmes evaluated, independent of the contributing companies and the gambling industry as a whole.”

In ensuring transparency, the companies have guaranteed that they will publicly report to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) on all actions taken to implement the agreed-upon initiatives, which will include confirmation of the payment of the 1 per cent voluntary contribution.

The companies will continue to identify customers whose gambling suggests they may be at risk of harm, and take steps to protect them. Building on the successful launch of GAMSTOP, the multi-operator self-exclusion scheme, and the land-based equivalent, they will further share data to protect problem gamblers from experiencing further harm.

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