The UK Gambling Commission is making £9m in funds from regulatory settlements available to GambleAware in a bid to boost the resilience of gambling harm treatment services during COVID-19.

After receiving $27m in penalty packages since January of this year alone, the charity and its partners are to use the windfall to help ensure treatment and support services can continue to operate effectively and withstand additional pressures brought by the outbreak.

This follows research undertaken by the regulator that indicated an overall fall in gambling participation since lockdown commenced, however concern was raised over “evidence of an increase in the use of certain gambling products such as online slots, poker, casino gaming and virtual sports.”

Furthermore, it was also said that funds will help to address any increase in demand for such services, support the move of services to alternative models of delivery, such as online, as well as building resilience in the treatment and support system during the uncertainty.

William Moyes, chairman of the Gambling Commission, explained: “In the current climate, and with the potential risks to British consumers in mind, we have fast-tracked this settlement-driven funding to GambleAware so their work to prevent gambling harms and award grants can continue seamlessly.

“In addition to a tough and flexible regulatory system, it’s vital that organisations such as GambleAware and their partners can continue the great work they do, especially at times when there is an elevated risk of gambling harm with people staying at home due to social distancing measures.

“Through the use of regulatory action to prevent harm, such as the ban of credit for gambling, alongside the use of regulatory settlements to support treatment services, the Commission is taking wide ranging action to address the additional risk of harm that may come from COVID-19.”

Action taken during the year by the UKGC have been related to systemic failings around anti-money laundering, social responsibility and VIP practices, with the operating licenses of four operators also suspended due to compliance related issues.

Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, added: “We welcome the receipt of these regulatory settlements at this uncertain time. Guided by a public health model, GambleAware commissions prevention and treatment services across England, Scotland and Wales in partnership with expert organisations and agencies, including the NHS.

“These funds will enable us to provide greater security around the funding of the National Gambling Treatment Service, and help keep people safe from gambling harms.”