Zoë Osmond backs 1% GGY levy but insists “several core elements” could impact service provision and access to treatment
GambleAware CEO Zoë Osmond has welcomed the incoming mandatory levy to fund research, prevention and treatment (RET) but warned the proposals still have key aspects that need to be addressed to ensure society is “free from gambling harms”.
The Gambling Commission’s consultation on the levy closed on 14 December 2023, with the introduction of a statutory levy to funnel £100m a year into the NHS announced by the government last October.
The proposed levy of 1% of annual gross gambling yield (GGY) for online operators is a move charity GambleAware has long called for.
Osmond said she hoped the introduction of the levy would put to bed the back-and-forth discussion around funding and the industry can move forward together to do what’s best for those suffering from gambling harm.
However, she stressed that although the levy could bring genuine change to the RET sector, there are still some “core elements” of the proposed approach that will not facilitate reducing gambling-related harm and that “could impact service provision and access for those in need”.
The GambleAware CEO has called for the development of “a National Strategy for the Prevention and Treatment of Gambling Harms” and “a single Prevention and Treatment Commissioner” to increase not only awareness but ensure services are equally accessible across England, Scotland and Wales.
Osmond also highlighted some issues with the proposed funding allocations, saying it isn’t being focused equally on prevention and treatment and that additional funding will be necessary, while noting that the definitions of treatment and prevention used in the consultation failed to recognise that prevention is “broken into primary, secondary and tertiary approaches” to treatment and care.
She added: “We recommend the co-commissioning of Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions, including the helpline, and propose that the delivery of national public awareness campaigns and digital early interventions should be included within the remit of the Prevention Commissioner.
“This will help ensure increased awareness of the issue and equal accessibility of services across England, Scotland and Wales.
“As well as the third sector, there are a range of other key stakeholders from primary care, the health and social care sector, local authorities, the criminal justice system, and, most importantly, people with lived experience of gambling harm. Their expertise must be sought, and their voices heard.
Osmond also said 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.
“We hope these issues will be addressed so that the transformational potential of the levy can be realised, and we can truly secure a society free from gambling harms.”
Despite GambleAware’s concerns, Osmond said the levy will provide clarity of funding, support longer-term planning and prevent duplication of work.
“We hope this means we can finally move on from the unhelpful distraction of debates about independence and funding, to now focus on working collaboratively to ensure the best system is in place to protect people from harm,” she added.