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Wolf Guarding the Hen House: Gambling Addiction Charity Run By Gambling Execs

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Aug/19/2016

  • New gambling addiction charity is made up of trustees and ambassadors from gambling firms
  • “Gambling charities especially, should be independent and free from industry influence,” one charity operator says
  • Founder defends itself: “predominantly volunteer-run” and works closely with those affected by addiction
  • Paddy Power, Bet365 and other major betting firms donate heavily to the charity

Great Britain’s newest gambling addiction charity, Young Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), is accused of conflict of interest over its links to betting industry.

The charity, which distributes educational material to school children in an effort to prevent them from gambling, was set up two years ago by reformed gambling addict Lee Willows.

It has since been revealed that gambling executives make up the charity’s trustees and ambassadors including chair of trustees, Dan Waugh, a partner at Regulus Partners, a gambling consultancy, and Dan Rough, the founder of an online scratchcard firm.

Simon Perfitt, who set up campaign group Rethink Gambling, said: “The presence of gambling executives and industry lobbyists within the charity is very concerning and in my view represents a serious conflict of interest.

“Gambling charities especially, should be independent and free from industry influence.”

YGAM defended itself from the claims saying it was a “predominantly volunteer-run” organisation that worked closely with people affected by addiction.

Willows said: “YGAM has a diverse board of trustees from a range of sectors whom all bring different insights. We believe such a mix is important as it allows for more informed decision-making. As YGAM evolves, like any other charity, we keep our board composition under review.”

Some of the UK’s biggest gambling firms donate to the organization including Gala Group, Bet365, Paddy Power, Caesars Entertainment and the Senet Group.

Perfitt told the Guardian: “Other gambling charities and support organisations struggle to obtain funding, so I would have to question why the gambling industry is pouring money into this particular charity. Could it be that they see it as a way of discharging their responsibility to contribute to gambling addiction prevention, safe in the knowledge that it will have a minimal effect on gambling harm and on their profits?”

Jim Orford, emeritus professor of clinical and community psychology at the University of Birmingham and founder of campaign group Gambling Watch UK, suggested it would be difficult for an organization that receives heavy funding from gambling businesses to criticize such firms.

But YGAM revealed it had initially intended to appoint ambassadors Anne and Keith Evans, whose gambling-addicted son killed himself, as trustees.  It also claims that without the support of the large betting firms, YGAM would be unable to continue operating.

- Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com

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