Five of the largest members from the Betting and Gaming Council have committed to spending £100m on improving treatment services for problem gamblers.
The operators, which include Bet365, GVC, PaddyPower Betfair, Sky Betting and Gaming and William Hill, have already pledged to increase the amount they spend on research, education and treatment services from 0.1 per cent of annual revenue to 0.75 per cent by 2023.
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher commented: “As the new body representing the regulated betting and gaming industry, we are committed to driving up standards.
“This latest funding commitment is yet more evidence of the industry’s determination to improve the quality and provision of treatment for problem gamblers – and of our members’ eagerness to get on with it as quickly as possible.”
The funds will go to GambleAware, which will be the main commissioning agent for ensuring funds reach people who require counselling and treatment.
Peter Jackson, CEO of Flutter Entertainment, said: “GambleAware has a long track record in commissioning treatment services and working with providers for the benefit of problem gamblers.
“Through the provision of this unprecedented level of financial support, we aim to achieve a step-change in the treatment and counselling available to those experiencing gambling-related harm.
“As an industry, we are taking significant strides to build in further protections for customers. From increasing safer gambling messages in response to COVID-19, to a £10m nationwide education initiative targeting all 11-19 years old across the country, we are creating a safer environment for our customers while devoting resources to protecting the vulnerable and under-age.”
Alongside this announcement, the BGC also confirmed that £2.5m will be made available to the YGAM and GamCare gambling education project during this financial year.
While large betting and gaming operators continue to provide 0.1 per cent of their annual income to GambleAware’s funding of RET, BGC members will give an additional £3.8m of funding to the BetRegret 2020 advertising campaign to encourage safer gambling.
In a statement of the BGC website, Health Secretary Matt Hancock welcomed the latest funding. He said: “I’ve seen first hand how problem gambling can damage people’s mental health and affect the lives of those around them – and I’ve been determined to help protect vulnerable people from the impacts.
“So I’m delighted the Betting and Gaming Council is taking these steps to support treatment and provision for problem gamblers.
“The Government will continue to tackle the consequences of problem gambling by rolling out specialist services on the NHS, which will offer expert care and treatment for those who need it.”
Brigid Simmonds, chairman of the BGC, added: “It is a credit to our large members that they remain committed to increased funding for RET and to the promises made to the Secretary of State for £100 million to go to funding treatment over the next four years.
“Ensuring that GambleAware are the main beneficiaries of this announcement recognises their independence, their links with the Department of Health and Social Care and health professionals and their acknowledged expertise as a commissioning body.”
Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston welcomed the additional funding, emphasising that the industry has a duty of care to protect players. He said: “We have been clear that the gambling industry has a responsibility to protect people from gambling-related harm and support those who have been affected.
“I welcome the Betting and Gaming Council now outlining how it will deliver on leading operators’ pledges to bolster research, education and treatment. We will monitor closely the progress of these new measures and continue to encourage the wider industry to step up.”