The Responsible Gambling Fund (RGF) has cancelled its funding partnership with the Great Foundation claiming it was "unable to operate with a degree of independence" in the partnership.
A spokesman for the RGF told civilsociety.co.uk that the conflict arose from the gambling industry wanting more involvement on how money raised by the Great Foundation should be spent and that the charity would "not be complying with charity law" if the partnership were to continue as it does.
The RGF, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, and the Great Foundation were formed in 2009 following a 2008 Gambling Commission Review. A tri-partite agreement between the organisations was "enforced by the gambling industry at the time", said the RGF spokesman, as an alternative to using powers in the Gambling Act to bring in a statutory levy on the gambling industry to fund research, education and treatment in relation to problem gambling. RGF's mission is to distribute funds for research, education and treatment services across the gambling field, independent of the gambling industry.
However the RGF trustees have found the agreement "unworkable" following increasing interference from gambling industry stakeholders applying pressure on the Great Foundation on how to spend its funding, according to the RGF spokesman:
"It comes down to the fact that the gambling industry has much stronger interest in funding treatment than it does in funding research," he said.
New partnerships on the horizon
Neil Goulden, chairman of the Great Foundation, which has raised £5m in funding per year to help combat problem gambling, said he welcomed the end of the "unworkable distribution process for the funds raised by the industry." He also advised of plans to enter a new partnership with Gamcare, which provides counselling support to gambling addicts:
"The gambling industry remains firmly committed to supporting and helping the very small minority of people who run into problems with their gambling... However Great has become increasingly disillusioned at a structure which has proven to be costly and ineffective and ended up in the unacceptable position of a mediation between RGF and Gamcare.
"Great will now work to put in place a new distribution structure which is integrated and focuses on getting the maximum part of the £5m to those who need help. In so doing we intend to work very closely with respected providers such as Gamcare," Goulden said.
RGF future uncertain
RGF now faces the prospect of closure when the funding agreement ends next March. "Logically the RGF won't have a reason to exist," said the RGF spokesman, advising that the charity is far off knowing how it will proceed.
RGF employs 3.5 full-time equivalent staff. "The trustees' primary concern is the smooth transition. We will be focussed on ensuring that the considerable staff expertise is not lost to the sector," he advised.
RGF is now in discussions with the Great Foundation on how to take things forward. A statement released by the charity said:
"RGF’s trustees and staff are already planning how to operate between now and the end of March 2012 when the agreement ends. We will be talking to Great about how to manage the current grants and contracts.
"We have made commitments that extend over a number of years and we urge the industry-led fund raising body to honour these. Great have already told us that they will give us their help and support in making the best possible continuing arrangements for our beneficiaries."