Gambling firms come together to support relief efforts during the COVID crisis
The coronavirus pandemic has shown no signs of abating, despite many parts of the world being in lockdown for extended periods of time.
Many countries, including the United Kingdom, are yet to reach the peak of the virus, meaning that there is still some time to go before restrictions can be lifted.
In such times, people need all the help they can get, especially those whose livelihoods have been affected due to the extended lockdown.
While governments are doing all they can to provide support, it has been heartening to see companies and regulatory bodies in other sectors step up and provide money, manpower and supplies wherever possible, and the gambling industry has not been far behind in these efforts in the United Kingdom.
To start with, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) allocated a sum of £9 million to GambleAware, which is a charity working towards tackling gambling addiction and other gambling-related problems in the UK.
This is especially important at this time, as while overall gambling figures may have declined because casinos and other physical gambling locations have been shut, there is enough evidence to suggest that people have increased their online gambling tendencies, with many websites available which offer casino games, real money slots and other gambling opportunities online.
Further, due to the lockdown measures in place, many people may be struggling with their mental health but have no one to talk to because they cannot meet them, and may resort to online gambling as a result.
In such a scenario, it is extremely important that they get the mental health support required, and GambleAware aims to do exactly that. GambleAware also works with the NHS to keep people safe from gambling-related issues, and thus this funding award will help reduce the stress on the NHS as well as it battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, there has been another significant bit of funding from the wider gambling and lottery industry, with the UK’s National Lottery announcing a package worth £600m to support organizations and charities which have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
The emphasis will be on organizations which provide help to the elderly, help combat loneliness and isolation, and give mental health support.
It will also be provided to projects and organizations working across a wide range of sectors, from arts and education to sports and the environment.
This money will be disbursed in various ways, with up to £300m being provided by the National Lottery Community Fund to distribute to groups over the next six months, while a £50m fund from the National Lottery Heritage Fund will be used to work on issues in the heritage sector over the next four months, and also to allow people to pick up essential digital skills to be able to work in increasingly automated jobs.
The Arts Council will release up to £144m for organizations working in arts and culture, while Sport England will use £157m of the funding for providing help to sports organizations and venues which are struggling due to a complete collapse in demand due to the ban on sporting events.
Sport Wales has announced a Sports Resiliency Fund worth £4.8m, while Sports Scotland is using £16.4m to help Scottish sports governing bodies, community organizations and other partners. The British Film Institute has allocated £4.6m to help people in the film and television industries who have been hit hardest due to filming being suspended across the country.
These are just some of the ways in which the £600m funding is being used by the various beneficiaries, based on their needs and the areas which need the most help. It is an extremely gracious and helpful endeavour by the National Lottery, which could go a long way towards helping a number of the most vulnerable and affected people across the United Kingdom.