GambleAware lauds ‘Big Four’ donations but decries ‘inconsistent approach’

GambleAware has published its list of corporate donors for the 12 months ending 31 March 2022, revealing that the ‘Big Four’ group of UK operators generated 89% of all contributions.

The responsible and safer gambling organisation updated that Entain, Flutter Entertainment and William Hill all made donations in the millions, with total industry contributions to GambleAware reaching £34.7 million.

The continued contributions from the industry fall in line with its commitment to increase their donations from 0.1% to 1% of gross gambling yield by 2024. And while this is something GambleAware has noted as a positive development, the group maintains that there is an ‘inconsistency in donations from other operators’. 

“These donations fund essential services for the prevention of gambling harms, helping build a coalition of expertise to tackle and prevent gambling harms across Great Britain,” said Zoë Osmund, GambleAware CEO.

“We welcome the commitment from the “Big Four” operators to increase their donations over the coming years, however, there remains an inconsistent approach to funding across the wider gambling industry, which leads to uncertainty and instability.

“That’s why we are calling on the government to introduce a mandatory levy on the gambling industry as a condition of licence.”

A breakdown of individual donation saw Entain contributed £4 million alongside Ladbrokes Coral Group’s £4.7 million to GambleAware across the year-long period, whilst Flutter’s five main UK-facing brands generated a combined total of £17.4 million. 

Of the latter firm’s brands, £6.1 million and £6 million came from Sky Betting and Gaming and Betfair respectively, followed by the Stars Group at £680.000, Paddy Power at £537,000, and Tombola at £663,599.

Meanwhile William Hill gave £4.5 million, whilst other donations included Hillside UK Sports’ £2.6 million, Playtech’s £101,768, Platinum Gaming’s £92,000, Betway’s £60,200, 888 UK’s £50,000, 32Red’s £28,000 and LeoVegas’ £28,756.

Although bet365’s donations were not featured in GambleAware’s recent list, the company – as one of the UK’s Big Four – has led the table in previous updates, generating £4.2 million for the charity during the first three months of the 2021/22 fiscal year.

In place of the current model, which sees operators voluntarily donate to GambleAware, the charity is calling for the introduction of a mandatory research, education and training (RET) levy on the industry. 

The charity maintains that this framework would enable better long-term planning and commission services for gambling harm prevention, as well as producing greater stability and development of ‘best in-class solutions’.

Osmund continued: “The gambling industry should take the necessary and responsible steps by matching its success to the scale of gambling harms risk, especially at a time of rising financial and economic hardship across the country. 

“This would commit much more funding to treatment, prevention, and research per year – and could be delivered in a matter of months.”

GambleAware’s proposals for a mandatory levy have been criticised by some, however, with Brigid Simmonds (OBE), Chair of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), recently arguing that such a change could pose a risk to inroads made with regards to problem gambling treatment funding.

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