Gambling

Supplementary Written evidence submitted by the

Responsible Gambling Fund (RGF) (GA 90)

1. The Responsible Gambling Fund (RGF) is grateful for the opportunity to make this further submission about fundamental changes which have occurred since its original submission of June 2011.

2. The earlier submission explained that RGF is a charity established in 2009 as part of the tripartite voluntary arrangements for gambling-related research, education and treatment (RET) which were negotiated, following a Review of RET by the Gambling Commission in 2008, as an alternative to the introduction of a statutory levy under the Gambling Act 2005. The tripartite structure comprises the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB), which formulates RET policies; the GREaT Foundation (GREaT), which raises the money for RET from the industry; and RGF, which commissions and funds RET activities with the money it receives from GREaT.

3. RGF’s remit has been to be a proactive grant maker drawing on voluntary and statutory sector best practice, with the emphasis on transparency in commissioning, specification of outcomes and evaluation of impact, in order to ensure accountability, effectiveness and value for money. Central to the remit is that RGF should act independently of the industry in reaching and implementing its decisions. Part of the criticism of the predecessor arrangements for fund distribution was that they were open to the charge that they lacked such independence.

4. Difficulties arose between RGF and GREaT over the issue of independence which reached a head in July 2011, causing RGF regretfully to give notice of termination of its funding agreement with GREaT with effect from 31 March 2012. GREaT had almost simultaneously determined to give notice, and so the decision to part company was in effect mutual. When giving notice RGF undertook to continue to co-operate with GREaT and other interested parties in order to achieve the best possible continuing arrangements for those for whose interests it was set up. Summarised in the Appendix are the activities and projects promoted and funded by RGF during its brief existence which it hopes will continue and be built on.

5. Underlying the difficulties is GREaT’s view, as we understand it, that since the RET arrangements are voluntary and the industry supplies the funds, the industry should be fully involved in the decision-making process. This point of view is understandable, but is incompatible with one of the principles of the tripartite system, that decisions about the distribution of funds should be made independently of industry.

6. The tripartite arrangements envisaged by the 2008 RET Review have foundered because of insufficient will and determination on the part of those who signed up to them to see  that they should succeed. The challenge now remains to devise a new scheme for the distribution of RET funds such that choices of priority between research, education and treatment – and within each of these categories – are not dominated by the views of the industry or any of the service providers. If this cannot be achieved within a voluntary system the government should use its powers under the 2005 Act to introduce a statutory levy.

24 October 2011

APPENDIX

Since it was set up in June 2009 RGF has created a solid foundation on which others can build. The charity’s achievements in the short time it has been running include:

· Making grants and awarding contracts for gambling research, education and treatment worth £5.7 million in 2010/11, including grants to:

o GamCare, to support its helpline and work in treating problem gambling

o The Gordon Moody Association for two therapeutic residential communities providing a twelve-week programme of specialist workshops and exercises as well as support in peoples’ homes and online

o The National Problem Gambling Clinic to provide specialist counselling to help adults of all ages, particularly women, to kick their problem gambling habit.

· Commissioning the Royal College of GPs to run a nationwide training programme in Britain aimed at improving the way in which doctors - and other primary health care workers - spot problem gamblers and refer them on to specialist help.  The longer term aim is to adapt the training package for other staff working in specialist services such as debt advice agencies, mental health services, drug and alcohol services, and prisons.

· Leading the work of clinicians and other experts in treatment to ensure significant progress has been made in matters of quality assurance, risk, clinical governance, and involvement of users.

· Funding pilot projects in Scotland, Wales and the West Midlands that bring together experts in problem gambling treatment with money advice agencies, local GPs and other community organisations to tackle problem gambling early on, and to minimise the harm it causes.

· Supporting an innovative project with Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire to develop a year calendar and self-assessment quiz. These are being developed alongside posters, stickers and case studies for higher education institutions and their students as part of an RGF-funded initiative to prevent or minimise gambling-related harm in higher education.

· A pilot study by Lancaster University on the prevalence of gambling problems amongst inmates in English prisons. This study found:

o Risk and problem gambling rates amongst prisoners are significantly higher than the general population;

o Prisoners who take part in gambling are more likely to run into difficulties than gamblers in the general population;

o It is possible that offending could be reduced by as much as 5% if gambling problems were effectively addressed.

· Developing a specification for a National Gambling Helpline. 18 months of work by RGF - including taking expert advice - has meant that the industry-led fundraising body, the GREaT Foundation, has been able to successfully conclude negotiations (begun by RGF) with GamCare over the funding of national gambling helpline service.

· Widening the range of people researching problem gambling - by funding PhDs - as a practical and cost-effective means of informing public policy and increasing the level of hard evidence on which to base decisions about the best ways to tackle problem gambling.

· Commissioning and publishing a Map the Gap study that sets out the extent of the challenge facing British policy makers in using evidence and research to support a national strategy that promotes responsible gambling.

Prepared 17th November 2011