UK gambling operators’ contributions to the industry-funded GambleAware responsible gambling charity are on the rise, although the rate of growth appears to be slowing at precisely the wrong time.
This week, GambleAware revealed that its voluntary donations from UK gambling operators had hit £7.6m in the nine months ending December 31, 2019. This is around £2.2m higher than the £5.4m that the industry contributed through the first six months of GambleAware’s fiscal 2019-20, revealing a slower rate of growth as the fiscal year draws to a close.
Donations are on pace to slightly improve on the £9.6m that GambleAware received in its 2018-19 fiscal year, but GambleAware previously noted that it would require a minimum of £10m in contributions in the 12 months through March 31, 2020 in order to meet its existing commitments and deliver on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harm developed with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) last April.
The most recent donations list shows that many of the UK gambling market’s major players – including GVC Holdings, Flutter Entertainment, William Hill and Bet365 – appear to have already donated what is presumably their full planned contribution for the current fiscal year. So hitting that £10m target may depend on some market minnows digging a little deeper than their usual token contributions.
The £7.6m received to date in the current fiscal year doesn’t include GambleAware’s share of regulatory settlements imposed by the UKGC. So far, GambleAware’s share of these penalties amounts to £1.29m, unchanged from the first half of the fiscal year.
Last June, five major UK operators pledged to boost their annual responsible gambling funding from the current rate of 0.1% of revenue to 1% over the next five years. The operators may have expected some recognition for their pledge, but recent events have proven anything but rewarding for the UK gaming sector. Yet another headline three months from now screaming about how the industry doesn’t give a damn about problem gamblers won’t help matters.