UK Charity Commission Confirms Case Opened Into GambleAware Allegations

May 23, 2024
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The Charity Commission for England and Wales has launched an investigation into GambleAware after receiving claims it is breaking charity rules by failing to provide unbiased information.
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The Charity Commission for England and Wales has launched an investigation into GambleAware after receiving claims it is breaking charity rules by failing to provide unbiased information.

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said: “We can confirm we have opened a regulatory compliance case relating to concerns raised about GambleAware.”

“We are actively engaging with the charity’s trustees about the concerns raised,” the Charity Commission told Vixio GamblingCompliance.

The opening of a compliance case is not itself a finding, but a step the commission can take to examine concerns raised.

In the UK, many gambling licensees donate 0.1 percent of annual revenue to GambleAware, which commissions research projects and offers safer gambling services.

That arrangement is set to be replaced by a new gambling levy proposed in the UK government’s gambling white paper. A consultation on the levy is expected to close soon after the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport issues its finalised plans for introducing the new tax.

On May 17, GambleAware responded to news that an investigation by the Charity Commission had been launched, saying the claims under scrutiny are “based on misleading and outdated information”.

“While we are confident that this complaint will not be upheld, we are deeply concerned that inaccurate headlines and misleading newspaper articles may have a damaging impact on our services and the people that rely on them,” GambleAware said.

Earlier this year, the publicly funded Good Law Project accused GambleAware of “propping up an industry that preys on the public”, joining gambling industry reform campaigners Annie Ashton and Will Porchaska in saying it would launch a complaint to the Charity Commission.

“Charities are supposed to help people in need, not serve industry interests, and they are supposed to present information on controversial subjects without bias,” the Good Law Project said in March 2024.

Zoë Osmond, the CEO of GambleAware, reiterated to Vixio that the charity “strongly refutes” the allegations against it, calling them "baseless and highly damaging".

GambleAware is “robustly independent from the gambling industry, having long called for further regulation on gambling advertising and for the implementation of a statutory funding system to hold the gambling industry to account”, according to Osmond.

The GambleAware CEO also said its public health campaigns are created in collaboration with people who have experienced gambling harm and “break down barriers for support and shine a light on the fact gambling harm can affect anyone”.

“The treatment and support we commission, which includes the National Gambling Support Network and National Gambling Helpline, represent one of the few lines of defence available to the millions impacted by gambling harms each year,” Osmond said.

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