Gambling charities solve dispute by merging

15 Dec 2011 News

The charity that raises money from the gambling industry to fund research and treatment into problem gambling is to merge with the charity that distributes the funds.

The charity that raises money from the gambling industry to fund research and treatment into problem gambling is to merge with the charity that distributes the funds.

The planned merger, which will take place at the end of March next year when the existing funding agreement between the two bodies expires, will simplify the complex charity structure that was set up in 2009 to improve industry responsibility and provide funding for services for problem gamblers.

The Responsible Gambling Fund (RGF), the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, and the Great Foundation were created following a 2008 Gambling Commission Review. A tri-partite agreement between the organisations was preferred by the gambling industry at the time as an alternative to a statutory levy to fund research, education and treatment in relation to problem gambling.

The role of the Great Foundation has been to extract donations from the gambling industry - around £5m a year - while RGF’s mission was to distribute those funds for research, education and treatment services across the gambling field, independent of the gambling industry.

But last summer RGF said the funding partnership with the Great Foundation was unworkable thanks to increasing interference from gambling industry stakeholders pressuring the Great Foundation as to how to spend the money.  A spokesman for the RGF said the gambling industry “has much stronger interest in funding treatment than it does in funding research”.

Recently, gambling support charity GamCare secured a new contract from the Great Foundation to run a national helpline and provide treatment services for gamblers and others affected by the problem.  The deal followed two years of uncertainty for GamCare while it was caught in the crossfire of the dispute.

Five trustees left RGF board

Now the RGF and the Great Foundation have agreed to merge and five RGF trustees have this week stood down to make way for three new ones from the board of the Great Foundation. The new chair will be Neil Goulden, who provides consultancy services to the Gala Coral Group and is chair of the Great Foundation.

Peter Dean, the outgoing RGF chair, said: “Setting up a new charity and initiating so many valuable work streams has been immensely rewarding.  The outgoing trustees hope that the new trustees who have been nominated by the Great Foundation to lead RGF are able to sustain the momentum achieved by our small team of dedicated staff.”

Neil Goulden said: “I am pleased that we have reached this point in the joining up of the work of RGF and Great.  The advantages in the new integrated arrangements will quickly become clear and will ensure that even more funding will go to those who are working to help problem gamblers and those at risk.  

“The new trustees of RGF continue to support the work initiated by their predecessors and can confirm that all existing grants and contracts will be honoured.  More information about work in progress and future plans will be available early in the new year.”

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