The closure of the consultation on the statutory levy structure for gambling operators has triggered a proactive response from GambleAware, underscoring the necessity for crucial adjustments in funding distribution to effectively combat gambling harms. Zoë Osmond, leading GambleAware, articulated the organization’s stance in a comprehensive statement released post-consultation.

Osmond began by expressing GambleAware’s endorsement of the statutory industry levy as a means to fund research, prevention, and treatment (RPT) of gambling harms. She highlighted the significance of this step, emphasizing, “This is something we have long called for and it marks an important step-change in efforts to tackle gambling harms.”

The call for a statutory levy stems from the challenges faced in fundraising, notably evident in 2016-17, when GambleAware reported record donations but fell short of its fundraising target. To bolster the effectiveness of this levy, Osmond stressed the necessity for a National Strategy for the Prevention and Treatment of Gambling Harms, advocating for a unified Prevention and Treatment Commissioner.

Critically, Osmond outlined concerns regarding funding allocations, saying, “The current proposed funding allocations do not adequately reflect the potential population-level benefits of shifting spend upstream to focus more on prevention and early intervention, which is at the heart of a public health approach.”

The statement delved into the consultation’s definitions of treatment and prevention, criticizing their failure to acknowledge the nuanced stratification within prevention, encompassing primary, secondary, and tertiary approaches, which seamlessly segue into treatment and care.

Osmond concluded the statement by underscoring the need for a smooth transition to the new levy system, saying, “Lastly, a smooth and stable transition to the new system is vital. Leaning on the established expertise of the third sector will be critical, and clarity on funding for both GambleAware and the wider sector is urgently needed to prevent any disruption to the existing support and treatment services, which help hundreds of people every day.”

Highlighting the transformative potential of the levy, Osmond expressed hope that the addressed concerns would be resolved to secure a society free from gambling harms. She emphasized the necessity of these adjustments to fully realize the levy’s potential in effecting positive change and safeguarding individuals from gambling-related adversities.

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