UK gambling charity to get £9m from operators’ screwups


uk-gambling-penalties-gambleaware-charity-donationUK gambling operators’ regulatory failings are now helping to fund problem gambling charities, while the National Lottery has committed £600m to backstop charities and other organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced that it was donating £9m to the industry-funded responsible gambling charity GambleAware. The UKGC’s donation is intended to ensure that the charity can continue to provide treatment and support for individuals who suffer gambling harm during the pandemic lockdown.

While the UKGC’s own research indicates that gambling participation has decreased since the lockdown began, the regulator said there is “evidence that some people are increasing their use of certain gambling products such as online slots, poker, casino gaming and virtual sports.”

The UKGC noted that the £9m came from the £27m in financial penalties it has imposed on its online and land-based licensees since the start of this year. GambleAware announced last week that it had exceeded its annual fundraising target of £10m for the first time but CEO Marc Etches said he wasn’t about to say no to the extra cash “at this uncertain time.”

GambleAware, which asks all UK-facing operators to donate at least 0.1% of their annual gross gaming revenue, recently posted its donation guidelines for its 2020-21 fiscal year, which got underway on April 1. GambleAware said “it is expected that donations required in 2020/21 will be expected to rise to a minimum level of between £15 million and £20 million, subject to the publication of an updated delivery plan.”

The UK’s National Lottery operator Camelot contributed £1.65b to good causes in its most recent fiscal year but the Lottery announced last month that it would distribute “up to £300m” to charities and local volunteer organizations “over the next few months” to help support the most vulnerable members of UK communities during the pandemic.

This week, the Lottery announced that organizations negatively impacted by COVID-19 would now be able to draw up on a “comprehensive package of support of up to £600m,” although that includes the previously announced £300m funding.

The funding will be available to groups across the UK representing “the arts, community and charity, heritage, education, environment and sport.” National Lottery Forum chair Dawn Austwick said the funds available are “switching focus … to mitigate the unprecedented pressure” that community groups are under as a result of COVID-19.