There is a myth that betting firms are simply money-grabbing powerhouses who have no interest or care in the wellbeing of their customers.
For the most part, nothing could be further from the truth, and five of the industry’s giants have proved it this week by getting together to create a £60m fund to help tackle problem gambling.
It’s a voluntary move that increases the levy they provide to the government from 0.1% of annual gross profits to 1%, and while that may appear to be a minimal increase on paper efforts the coffers will be swelled by tens of millions of pounds, which will be targeted both through research into prevention as well as treatment of gambling issues.
The quintet are bet365, SkyBet, William Hill, GVC Holdings (who own Ladbrokes and Coral) and Flutter, the brand behind the Paddy Power Betfair hook-up.
They have also come together to spend an accumulative £100m specifically on the treatment of gambling problems, with the funds used to increase the training provision of counsellors and their support staff.
Representing the group, the CEO of Flutter, Peter Jackson, said:
“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.”
A Plan is Forged
This is one of the first occasions in which betting operators have actively partnered with the government and other organisations, including the NHS, to decide how best to broach the subject of problem gambling.
The brands will now discuss with NHS officials and members of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as to how best spend the funding. The main mission is to increase the number of people accessing available treatment from just 2.5% of problem gamblers to 10% in the early going.
Data will be shared to identify problem gamblers, and the wording of marketing messages will be changed to ensure that responsible betting is promoted front and centre.
There will also be further research conducted into safer gambling practices, with rule changes already brought in to change the way that bookmakers advertise their products and services during live sports broadcasts on TV.
The charity GamCare has revealed that there are more than 300,000 ‘problem’ gamblers in the UK, and that more needs to be done to prevent addictive behaviour as well as treating those who are suffering.
The NHS has since confirmed that fourteen specialist clinics will be set up across the country to act as a resource for gamblers to turn to.
Speaking in the Commons, the leader of the Department for Media, Culture and Sport, Jeremy Wright said:
“While we all want a healthy gambling industry that makes an important contribution to the economy, we also need one that does all it can to protect those that use it.
“The five companies who have proposed these measures today will be working closely with Government, charities and regulators so we can address any new or developing harms.
“They will change lives for the better and contribute to the ongoing work we are doing to make gambling safer for everyone.”