The Safer Online Gambling Group (SOGG) is to partner with betting and gaming operator group, GVC Holdings – owners of Ladbrokes and Coral – as part of GVC’s Changing for the Bettor campaign.
The campaign aims to tackle ‘the issues of gambling related harm head-on”. Founded earlier this year by father and son team, David and Adam Bradford, as a non-profit, SOGG will support GVC in its research, education and treatment programme.
Initially, GVC will fund SOGG to develop specifically tailored digital therapy tools for any individual showing signs of problematic play.
SOGG established itself to provide a platform to drive communication and action between the industry, families affected by gambling, and policy makers. It has the support of both government and opposition parties, and is exploring collaborative interventions with the NHS.
Former online gambling addict, David, 62, said: “Online gambling became a devastating addiction for me. In many cases, an addict will not know they have a problem until it’s too late. Psychologically, it takes you over. GVC’s commitment to funding pioneering treatment centres and exploring technologies that may stem a problem in the making is good news, and I’m pleased that they have asked SOGG to work alongside them.”
His son Adam, a social entrepreneur and activist said: “We know first-hand just how devastating the effects out of control online gambling are on the wider family. Many, like my dad, keep their addiction secret – we only found out about his problems through a report on the front page of the local newspaper. SOGG aims to be a credible and trustworthy critical friend to the industry, but not afraid to campaign on behalf of families affected by a gambling addiction who are too often left without a voice. We know we can make change happen, having contributed to the successful campaign to bring the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals stake down and the roll out of an NHS gambling clinic as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.”
Grainne Hurst, GVC’s Director of Responsible Gambling said, “We believe that it is vital to increase collaboration between operators, regulators and independent treatment providers and are very pleased to be able to partner with SOGG and support their development of digital therapy tools to treat problem gambling behaviour.”
In New Zealand, harm reduction is a legislative requirement, and the annual budget for the prevention of gambling harms is over $NZ18m (£9.3m; €10.7m; $12m) for a population of 4.7 million. By contrast, in 2017-18 Britain had £8m for gambling research, education, and treatment for a population of 65 million; less than £1.5m was spent on prevention activity. This funding relies on voluntary contributions from industry. GVC is the only operator to volunteer to donate 1% (20m) of its gross gambling revenue (GGR) by 2022, to fund research, education and treatment – this is ten times the current requirement.
This project is part of GVC’s wider global safer gambling campaign which includes a $5 million investment with Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addiction over the next five years.
Notes to editors
Over 430,000 people are addicted to gambling in the UK according to the Gambling Commission and a further two million people are at risk. 55,000 under 16s have gambling related problems according to charity GambleAware and the rate of advertising for gambling has increased by 600% since the Gambling Act 2005 deregulated many parts of the gambling industry. Adam and David would like to see advertising reduced, robust ID and affordability checks placed on online accounts and national campaigns run to highlight gambling addiction, as well as the further rollout of national NHS gambling addiction provision.