GambleAware Urges Scottish Football to Review Gambling Sponsorship

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GambleAware is urging Scottish football to look at its “concerning” relationship with gambling, insisting that clubs need to take greater responsibility.

Not a sustainable relationship

Iain Corby, the deputy chief executive of GambleAware, said that the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and others need to address the problem of gambling among fans and players.

In a report from the DailyMail, Corby said: “We are concerned about the relationship between Scottish football and gambling. We don’t think it’s a sustainable relationship. I think anyone who is making money out of gambling, whether that be a gambling company, a football club or a league, needs to consider what their responsibilities are.”

The report highlights that bookies provide sponsorships for Premiership, Scottish Cup and League Cup. The Celtic, Rangers and Hibernian teams display betting companies on their shirts.

With the report adding that gambling issues may have played a part in Parkhead striker Leigh Griffiths stepping away from the sport for an unknown length of time, Corby thinks now is the time for a discussion to take place on the issue.

In a bid to tackle the problem of gambling, GambleAware has launched its “Can We Have Our Ball Back” initiative, in partnership with the Scottish Football Supporters Association’s 2018 National Fan Awards.

Corby added: “It is about running awareness campaigns on the risks of gambling and funding treatment for people who get into difficulty. We know that players are at a higher risk of gambling addiction than the ordinary person on the street.”

He noted that in Scotland there are probably around 230,000 problem gamblers. In Corby’s opinion, more also needs to be done with gambling promotions through football and how it’s becoming normalized to children.

This is something that has been highlighted before, with Corby saying that the sport must demonstrate its seriousness in tackling the consequences associated with sports gambling.

Normalizing gambling

Back in August, the co-founder of Paddy Power noted that gambling advertising is being “normalized” to children.

At the time, Stewart Kenny of the Dublin-based bookmaker, said there needs to be a “radical change” in the industry, as no parent wanted to see their children exposed to gambling advertising. He added: “I don’t even think it’s in the interests of the betting industry because I think it’s alienating them from all the parents in the country.”

Lord Chadlington, a member of the UK’s Conservative Party, has also spoken out about gambling advertising. Joining forces with the Church of England, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish National Party (SNP), Chadlington is calling for gambling ads to be banned an hour before and an hour after live sporting events, in what is called a whistle-to-whistle ban.

In October, he highlighted that during the 2018 World Cup viewers were “overwhelmed” by 90 minutes of advertising. At the time, Chadlington said: “Is it therefore surprising that we now have 2m people at risk of joining the estimated 430,000 problem gamblers already in the UK?”

Speaking out recently against the whistle-to-whistle ban, Stephen van Rooyen, CEO of Sky UK & Ireland, said that the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) should look closer to online gambling, which is “largely unregulated.”

In an interview earlier this month, van Rooyen said: “What the RGA has failed to address is the inconvenient truth that more than 80% of the gambling industry’s advertising is in the largely unregulated online world.”

According to the CEO, there is a “disparity of regulation between TV and online platforms”.

While steps are being taken to address gambling and the problems associated with it, Corby noted in his interview that: “If football wants to maintain that level of income on a sustainable basis, then it has to do something quite radical and demonstrate to politicians and parents that it takes its responsibilities seriously.”