UK Charity Commission receives complaint against GambleAware

The complaint accuses GambleAware of accepting a "false narrative".
The complaint accuses GambleAware of accepting a "false narrative".

The complaint alleges that the charity has provided false information about gambling-related harm.

UK.- The Charity Commission has confirmed that it has received a complaint against the industry-backed grant-making body GambleAware. An independent non-profit body called The Good Law Project has alleged that the charity is providing false information on gambling-related harms. 

The complainant also raised concerns over the body’s industry links and questioned its high-profile Bet Regret campaign, which it said implies that gamblers are personally to blame for their losses. GLP said GambleAware’s discourse was “promoted by the gambling industry” and aimed to shift the blame from aggressive advertising or harmful products to individual gamblers.

It had similar concerns about the “understand your spending” tool on the GambleAware website, which it said placed shame and guilt on gamblers without providing advice to stop gambling, which the GLP suggests would be “the obvious thing to do”.

The complaint urges: “The Charity Commission must take action and investigate whether GambleAware is breaking charity law by failing in their duties to provide unbiased information – accepting the false narrative that gambling is a problem for individuals instead of a problem with the industry. And we’re preparing to take legal action if they refuse.”

The Good Law Project is led by public policy expert Will Prochaska, former strategic director of Gambling with Lives (GWL).

It’s not the first time that a gambling-industry backed charity has been the subject of a complaint to the Charities Commission. Back in 2021, the commission ruled that there was no conflict of interest after an investigation into the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM). The regulator had opened a compliance case following a complaint about YGAM’s links to the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).

The new complaint comes amid anticipation of a shakeup of the gambling education and treatment space in the UK. The government is expected to introduce a mandatory levy on gambling operators to fund support. This would replace the current voluntary donations to GambleAware and would go directly to the NHS, which will act as commissioner.

That leaves GambleAware’s future in question, but the body has said it will aim to be the NHS’s lead strategic partner for the development of the National Gambling Support Network (NGSN). Margot Daly, chair of GamCare, which operates the National Gambling Helpline, has called on MPs to ring fence funding to ensure the continuation of existing third-sector services.

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