Concerns have been expressed about gambling treatment and education charities’ receiving industry funding via voluntary contributions. Some of these concerns are discussed below.

 

1. Some believe that financial association with the gambling industry is per se undesirable. This concern may be developed to include:

  • Claims for independence are compromised
  • Industry funding can be seen as industry’s way of taking seriously and tackling gambling related harms.
  • Related to the latter, organisations receiving industry funding may reproduce industry’s ‘dominant narrative’ – that only a small minority of people suffer harms from gambling. They are ‘the problem’ and there is an implied connotation of pathology.

2. Industry funded organisations may fail to highlight the significant role of industry in contributing to gambling harms, for instance through marketing, sponsorship, product design, and algorithmic data gathering and targeting of individuals including those in recovery.

 

3. There have been questions raised about the quality and effectiveness of educational programmes to reduce gambling related harms.

 

Against these concerns

 

1. Treament and education charities themselves call for independent funding such as through a statutory levy.

 

2. Without current funding there would be very little support for individuals. A person in distress doesn’t care where the money comes from if it helps them.

 

3. Education programmes do draw attention to industry tactics as major factors in the causation of gambling related harms.

 

4. There is no evidence of industry’s influencing the activities of funded organisations.

 

5. An organisation providing education or treatment has these as its remit, and nobody can argue that education and treatment are unimportant: both would be greatly diminished without current funding arrangements. Workers in these organisations are fully committed to day-to-day wotk in these areas. As noted, this does not prevent their highlighting industry failings.

 

Further contexts

 

At higher policy level Scotland lags far behind England and some initiatives in Wales. NHS England has 16 gambling clinics and one for young people. The Scottish government has recently set up a working party on gambling related harms. Glasgow has been working for some years on a multi-agency address to gambling harms, overseen by Glasgow City Council and Scotland Public Health to include a range of partners. Third Sector developments include Scotland Reducing Gambling Harm at the Alliance for Health and scial Care. Last year the Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector awarded small grants to organisations across the city to implement community-based projects. Across Scotland, and within Glasgow, there continues to be locally devised work around gambling harms. There is also strong interest in substance recovery communities to develop attention to gambling harms recovery. Of course, Gamblers Anonymous and SMARTRecovery provide invaluable support for many. There are also UK-wide organisations such as GamLEARN offering online communities.

It remains that currently GamCare is the main treatment option for Glasgow and Edinburgh, and RCA Trust for the rest of Scotland.

 

Concluding comments

 

Concerns about voluntary industry funding have been expressed. Not everybody shares all – or any – of these concerns. All, though, have a strong desire to reduce gambling related harms. Within the field there are strong, sometimes polarised feelings. It may be helpful to see clear viewpoints and policy positions where relevant, particularly from industry-funded organisations. In fact, as we move towards a likely outcome of a statutory levy for funding research, education and treatment, underlying issues will remain. These boil down to the question of how much emphasis is given to education and treatment as primary drivers of harm prevention at the cost of diverting attention away from the current relative lack of focus upon industry’s role.

 

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