Paul Buck, CEO of gambling harm prevention agency EPIC Risk Management, has warned US wagering stakeholders that the market requires a ‘vital catch-up on gambling risks’. 

Buck made his comment as part of an interview with SBCNews, as his agency prepares to launch its US programme backed by GVC Holdings’ independent ‘US Foundation’ with $2.5 million in funding for training and educational resources.

“We had offers from different operators to collaborate around responsible gambling in the US,” Buck told SBC News. “This was a really important decision for us as we wanted to make sure that we found a partner that is as passionate about harm prevention as we are. 

“GVC’s US Foundation is demonstrating its commitment to the programme by investing an initial $2.5m into the programme so that we can provide our services for no initial charge.” 

EPIC and GVC have set about forming the most ambitious gambling harm educational programme for US incumbents, in which the collaboration will cover 14 separate states maintaining their own unique health networks and social security protections.

Buck underlined that EPIC and GVC are aware of the programme’s high expectations. Nevertheless, he stated that the size and scope of US gambling requires the “largest educational programme of its kind to be conducted globally”.  

He added: “What is clear is that the infrastructure around gambling education, research and treatment isn’t yet ready for what is going to be needed in this country over the next two to five years. 

“There is going to need to be significant investment in these areas and whilst EPIC will concentrate on prevention of harms we will also collaborate with legislators, treatment providers, politicians and other key stakeholders such as the National Council of Problem Gambling (NCPG) to help build a support network that is fit for purpose in supporting a sustainable industry.”

EPIC’s UK programme will be launched in a year when American health networks and access to vital services will be prominent factors at the top of the US2020 election agendas.

Leading directives, Buck is aware of the US political dynamics attached to the sensitive subject matter of US healthcare. Nevertheless, he warned state incumbents of the consequences of developing soft problem gambling harm support frameworks.  

“Right now, the health networks in the US are not ready for what is about to face them,” he said. “There needs to be a serious investment, state by state, in training and educating gambling treatment professionals and building or developing facilities that are fit for purpose.

“That isn’t going to happen overnight and will take finances, commitment and structured planning. In the meantime, this makes education and awareness programmes even more crucial as the more people who are making informed decisions, the fewer people will need treatment at a time when it just isn’t there on enough scale.”