Palace Teams Up with GambleAware to Tackle Addiction

Crystal Palace Football Club and GambleAware have joined forces to minimize gambling-related harm within football.

The move comes after a plethora of football teams have revealed sponsorship from foreign gambling providers who make use of the arrangement to bypass gambling restrictions in their own countries.

Crystal Palace FC, currently in the bottom half of the Premier League, is itself sponsored by ManBetX, a Filipino firm. However, Palace is the first team to pledge a partnership with the charity GambleAware, which hopes the deal will raise awareness around the risks of gambling, particularly among vulnerable punters.

Palace and gambling

Across the stadium at Selhurst, London, messages will be visible to spectators both on the ground and at home. Signage will appear around the perimeter of the pitch and on electronic screens throughout the venue. As the football season is nearly over, this will only take place during the club’s last three games.

As one of the nine Premier League clubs that are currently sponsored by gambling companies, Crystal Palace is the first club to take part in an initiative like this. By creating this project the charity GambleAware hopes other clubs will be encouraged to do the same. Marc Etches, Chief Executive of GambleAware, believes that high profile clubs have responsibilities to help raise awareness of the risks of gambling.

He says: “This is an important first step towards a deeper and broader action plan to address the ever-closer relationship between gambling and football. As the first professional football club to make this commitment, Crystal Palace is setting a great example to other clubs, and not only those with gambling sponsors because all benefit from the income that flows from television deals funded by the ever-growing amount of gambling advertising around live sport.”

Why football in particular?

This is a tricky subject as although there are strict rules around gambling advertisements, it’s well recognized that football teams can command large fees for TV ads during important matches.

The gambling industry is banned from advertising in or around programmes aimed at young people, and voluntarily doesn’t advertise before the 9 pm watershed. For live sports matches, however, all this changes.

Recent BBC research found that 95% of British football matches on TV featured at least one gambling commercial during ad breaks.

Steve Parish, Chairman of Crystal Palace FC said: “As a Premier League club, we recognize our responsibility of helping promote safe and responsible gambling. I’m pleased that Crystal Palace are the first club to form a partnership with GambleAware, and I hope we can play a part in raising awareness about their service and help those individuals who need support.”

Who else is involved?

Other high-profile football teams sponsored by overseas betting companies include Huddersfield and Newcastle, sponsored by Chinese Ope Sports and Fun88 respectively.

Crystal Palace shirts are of course sponsored by ManBetX, whose director, Jon Collins, says: “ManBetX are committed to helping people gamble responsibly and welcome the club’s involvement with GambleAware. As the official shirt sponsor of Crystal Palace FC, we have an added degree of responsibility to support those who offer help and free advice to ensure people gamble responsibly, both within football and the wider community.”

At the moment, it’s unclear whether messages at the last three games of the season will have any impact. Whatever the case, GambleAware is certainly hopeful of attracting wider industry support. Whether or no they do remains to be seen.