The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has transferred £9 million in industry penalties to help its problem gambling, support, research and treatment charities cope with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The UKGC has directly allocated £9 million to lead gambling-harm prevention charity GambleAware, who will be tasked with distributing funds to its partner network.
The UKGC and GambleAware have prioritised ensuring that gambling harm support and treatment services can continue to operate effectively, withstanding additional pressures caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The £9 million emergency fund has been secured from industry settlements received by UKGC, accounting for penalty charges on social responsibility, customer interaction and money laundering failings.
Since the start of 2020, the UKGC’s regulatory action has led to the industry paying £27 million in penalty packages.
William Moyes, Chairman of the Gambling Commission, said: “In the current climate, and with the potential risks to British consumers in mind, we have fast-tracked this settlement-driven funding to GambleAware so their work to prevent gambling harms and award grants can continue seamlessly.
“Through the use of regulatory action to prevent harm, such as the ban of credit for gambling, alongside the use of regulatory settlements to support treatment services, the Commission is taking wide-ranging action to address the additional risk of harm that may come from Covid-19.”
In its statement, the UKGC detailed that gambling participation has fallen during the lockdown period. Nevertheless, the Commission notes that ‘there is evidence of an increase in the use of certain gambling products such as online slots, poker, casino gaming and virtual sports’.
GambleAware confirmed that it is helping partners shift their support structures to alternative models of delivery such as online, aiming to maintain the UK’s problem gambling support networks during a period of uncertainty.
Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, said: “We welcome the receipt of these regulatory settlements at this uncertain time. Guided by a public health model, GambleAware commissions prevention and treatment services across England, Scotland and Wales in partnership with expert organisations and agencies, including the NHS.
“These funds will enable us to provide greater security around the funding of the National Gambling Treatment Service, and help keep people safe from gambling harms.”