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According to the latest data, there was an increase in the contributions made by the biggest UK gambling operators to charity organisations and causes but they have still been far from enough.
Gambling companies that are currently involved in multi-million football shirt sponsorship agreements have faced criticism for making extremely small contributions to the biggest industry-funded problem gambling charity, GambleAware.
In mid-April, GambleAware, which gets its funding from online casino and sports betting operators, published its annual list of donors, providing some details on the contributions being made individually by each firm.
As mentioned above, the latest data revealed an increase in contributions derived from the largest gambling companies, which corresponded to a promise they made in 2019. However, GambleAware’s reports showed that far smaller contributions were made by other companies, especially operators that provide overseas companies with access to the UK gambling market via the so-called “white label system”. One operator was found to have contributed just £250 to the charity.
White Label Companies Ease Overseas Gambling Operators’ Access to the UK
White label companies are often based in territories such a Malta or the Isle of Man but own gambling licences in the UK, which allow them to offer their services on rent to foreign gambling firms that often originate from companies where gambling advertising is not legal. By using the services of so-called white-label operators, those gambling brands get the opportunity to popularise their services through football shirt sponsorships.
The ridiculously small contribution of only £250 was made by the Philippines-based gambling company W88 that has set foot in the UK thanks to a white label deal with Midnight Gaming. Currently, the operator is the shirt sponsor of Crystal Palace F.C., and the donated sum is just scandalous, as it is smaller even than donations from the Red Cross or hospices that contribute in case they hold special raffles to raise funds for GambleAware.
TGP Europe is another white-label operator that has helped a number of overseas companies enter the British gambling market, such as Sportsbet.io, Fun88 and SBOTOP that currently have shirt sponsorship agreements with Southampton F.C., Newcastle United and Leeds United, respectively. The company was reported to have donated £5,000 to the largest problem gambling charity in the UK.
A £10,000 contribution to GambleAware was made by Vivaro that helps two other companies – ManBetX and LoveBet – access the UK gambling sector. The licence holder for Dafabet, BGE, donated £2,000.
According to multiple reports, each of the sponsorship deals inked between the aforementioned gambling companies and British football clubs is estimated at more than £5 million a year.
Voluntary Donations Required by UK Gambling Firms as Condition to Keep Operating Licences
According to some campaigners, the amounts that have been contributed by such companies to the charity dealing with the harm and addiction they have caused is simply insulting to the people who have suffered various negative consequences as a result of their compulsive gambling habit.
Campaigners have called for local authorities to make sure they strip gambling companies from the privilege of becoming sponsors of football clubs. Some organisations have insisted on stricter measures to be imposed on gambling operators in the UK in order for them not to get the opportunity to decide how much to donate to gambling charities for research, education and treatment of gambling addiction.
For the time being, GambleAware is the largest gambling charity and beneficient of industry donations under the existing rules in the UK. The contribution system, however, is voluntary, as it originates from a long-time goodwill agreement between the UK government and the gambling sector. Under that agreement, gambling companies are required to donate at least 0.1% of their annual revenue to GambleAware as a condition of keeping their operating licence in the country.
However, their donations are far from enough, campaigners say. As Casino Guardian reported earlier in April, the mental health director for the National Health Service (NHS) England, Clair Murdoch, said that the existing contribution system leads to insufficient funding, leaving the NHS to deal with the consequences.
UK Gambling Sector Faces Increased Criticism and Scrutiny, Statutory Levy Sought to Be Imposed
The existing donation scheme and the insufficient contributions made by gambling companies to local problem gambling charities have been exactly the reasons why campaigners have called for a mandatory levy to be imposed on the gambling sector – a proposal to which the UK Government has so far resisted.
However, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), GambleAware and the campaigners still believe that a statutory levy is needed in order for the charity organisations to get the substantial amounts of money that is otherwise not allocated by the gambling sector.
The gambling sector of the country has faced increased scrutiny and criticism for several years, as claims have emerged that it does not provide enough funding to research, educate and treat people from problem gambling and gambling-related harm. As a result of this criticism, the four biggest operators in the country – Flutter Entertainment, Entain, bet365 and William Hill – have sought to put out the fire by increasing their donations. The four companies boosted the overall gambling industry contribution from £10 million to £19 million this year.
Unfortunately for them, despite the increase in their donations for gambling awareness and treatment charities, the largest gambling operators faced a new wave of criticism after reports that the co-owner of bet365 Denise Coates has once again received a record payment for 2020.
The Denise Coates Foundation Criticised for “Sitting on Millions” but Not Donating Money for Prevention of Gambling Harm
The beginning of April saw the charity operated by Denise Coates, joint Chief Executive Officer of bet365, face accusation of “sitting on millions in donations”.
Several weeks ago, Ms Coates was reported to have received the record amount of £421 million in 2020, which took her overall payment to over £1.2 billion in the past four years only. She has been also known for making donations worth millions of pounds to the foundation in her name, although the charity’s policy says that the organisation is able to operate without being dependent on contributions.
According to reports of the Charity Commission, the Denise Coates Foundation received donations worth £85 million up to March 2020. On the other hand, the charity spent only £9.9 million on various projects, which raised questions on why it is not spending more of the £385 million it has in reserves. Almost all of the reserves, £374 million, are kept by the Foundation in an endowment fund.
This is exactly why campaigners have criticised Ms Coates, saying she sits on millions of pounds that could have been donated to services to address gambling addiction. The gambling harm group Talkgen shared that research, education and treatment of problem gambling and gambling-related harm had been seriously underfunded for a few years now and the Denise Coates Foundation had never donated any money to prevent or reduce gambling harm.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.