GambleAware Seeks Funding Through Revised Regulatory UK Gaming Laws

Posted on: April 14, 2021, 02:47h. 

Last updated on: July 19, 2021, 01:03h.

GambleAware is calling on the UK Parliament to require the gaming industry to set aside some of its revenue to fund gambling awareness programs, such as its own.

GambleAware UK gaming industry
Former GambleAware CEO Mark Etches is seen here in 2019. He recently told the UK Parliament that the gaming industry should be required to fund responsible gaming services. (Image: GambleAware)

GambleAware is an independent nonprofit that has an agreement in place with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). Together, they operate the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms throughout Great Britain’s ever-expanding gaming industry.

Parliament’s Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is currently undergoing a thorough review of the UK’s 2005 Gambling Act. The DCMS is reviewing regulatory conditions and considering calls from gambling critics and opponents to place spending limits on online gambling.

Gaming Money to Support Awareness

In his testimony submitted to the DCMS in March but made public only recently, GambleAware Chief Executive Marc Etches says the organization shouldn’t need to rely on donations from individuals and corporations. Instead, he wants GambleAware to automatically receive revenue generated by casinos, betting shops, and online gaming firms.

The voluntary nature of the current arrangements results inevitably in uncertainty of funding year to year, and to significant variations in cash flow within the year,” Etches explained. “This unpredictable funding model represents a significant challenge … to provide treatment and support for those who need help.”

Numerous gaming companies in the UK voluntarily donate to GambleAware. Etches says that while the nonprofit has systems in place to ensure that the gaming industry has no influence over the charity’s decisions, donors can decide where how money is used. 

“It is for these reasons that GambleAware continues to advocate for a mandatory levy to fund research, prevention, and treatment services,” Etches concluded.

GambleAware revealed recently that for the 12 months ending March 31, 2021, the nonprofit received donations totaling £19 million (US$26.18 million). That was a £9 million increase on the 2019/20 fiscal year.

The agency said the increase was part of a commitment by the top four gaming companies in the UK — Entain, William Hill, Flutter, and Bet365 — to donate £100 million to GambleAware over the next five years. 

Etches, who announced his planned departure from GambleAware in August of 2020, left the organization at the end of March. The testimony submitted to the DCNS was dated March 30. 

Gaming Supports Treatment Initiatives

Mandating that casino and gaming operators direct some of their earnings towards gaming addiction treatment services is commonplace in the United States. 

Of the 25 states that have commercial casinos, 19 have laws that require a certain percentage of associated gaming tax revenue go towards responsible gaming programs. Two others set aside gaming addiction money based on annual appropriations. 

Massachusetts, which legalized casinos in 2011, has gone to great lengths to make sure its three casinos do not impact society negatively. The state’s Expanded Gaming Act requires that gaming taxes fund responsible gaming programs to the tune of at least $5 million annually. 

Despite many states earmarking casino money for responsible gaming services, the America Gaming Association (AGA) said in its 2020 State of the States report that some of the money isn’t being used as intended.

Each year, the casino gaming industry generates nearly $10 billion in gaming tax revenue for state governments, some of which is intended for advancing responsible gaming efforts and the prevention of problem gambling. While many states are spending these funds for their intended purpose, others are not,” the AGA Responsible Gambling Collaborative explained.

The AGA reports that some states that first collect the casino tax funds do not reallocate the money to the charitable responsible gaming nonprofits as expected.