Campaigners Call on UK PM to Ban Betting Sponsorship in Soccer

  • Gambling with Lives and The Big Step wrote a letter to Boris Johnson
  • The campaigning groups will deliver it to the Prime Minister's office today
  • The letter calls on the PM to agree to an outright ban of gambling sponsorship in soccer
  • The groups' initiative comes amidst a review of the UK Gambling Act 2005
Street sign of Downing Street, UK
Today campaigners will deliver a letter to 10, Downing Street, asking for an outright ban on soccer gambling sponsorship. [Image:]

Letter will be delivered to Boris Johnson today

Anti-gambling groups Gambling with Lives and The Big Step will deliver a letter today to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, calling on him to ban the sponsorship of soccer by gambling firms.

Campaigners will hand in the letter at the Prime Minister’s office at 10, Downing Street. Earlier today, Gambling with Lives took to Twitter to announce a 1:30pm gathering at Westminster ahead of the delivery:

The two groups say the relationship between soccer and gambling has reached “saturation point.” Their message comes in response to the fact that 27 clubs out of 44 in the Premier League and Championship divisions currently have sponsorships from betting operators.

Last week, the former chief executive of the Football Association, Mark Palios, also voiced concerns over betting sponsorship in the UK. He maintained that the links between gambling companies and soccer clubs have “gone too far.”

Call for ban would gain fans’ support

The letter states the campaigning groups’ belief that a call for a sponsorship ban would gain considerable support from soccer fans.

only 13% of fans are happy to have their club associated with a betting company

According to a recent survey by the Football Supporters’ Association, only 13% of fans are happy to have their club associated with a betting company. Despite this, three of the main divisions, including the Championship, League One, and League Two, are sponsored by betting company Sky Bet.

The letter calls for a change in legislation to include a ban on gambling logos on kits, an end to pitchside or in-stadium adverts, and a full ban on league sponsorship by betting companies.

Efforts to protect young soccer followers

The letter adds that the groups are “deeply concerned that impressionable young fans are being desensitized to the severe risks of addiction through gambling normalization in football.” According to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the nation has 430,000 problem gamblers, with a further two million people at risk.

430,000 problem gamblers, with a further two million people at risk

Despite gambling companies agreeing to a voluntary ad ban on television during matches, the UKGC is continuing to look into existing regulations under the watchful eye of the country’s ministers.

Gambling Act review to consider shirt sponsorship

New Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has previously spoken in Parliament over problem betting and will be instrumental in leading the review of the 2005 Gambling Act that is currently under way. The review will also take into account the role soccer clubs have in allowing shirt sponsorships by betting companies.

However, any big changes would have a serious impact on the income for soccer clubs – something Huddleston acknowledged last year as a member of the digital, culture, media, and sport select committee.

In April 2019, he questioned the role of the soccer leagues and the UKGC, particularly in relation to fines. He said: “There is a lot of money in football, including £4.5bn ($5.82bn) in the Premier League alone. Is enough of that money flowing to stamp out abuse and promote equality, and are the fines harsh enough to help with that?”

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