New Gambling Ad Ban for UK Soccer Clubs as Social Media Age-Gating Enforced

  • The BGC unveiled its new rules on Monday, banning links to gambling sites in soccer club posts
  • A total of eight new rules for non-age-restricted posts constitute a ban on gambling promotion
  • The council has written to soccer leagues and urged Facebook and Twitter to enforce age-gating
  • MPs will discuss soccer gambling sponsorship in a current review of the country's regulation
A magnifying glass over the Twitter home page
The BGC has issued a set of new rules for UK soccer clubs, banning them from promoting gambling websites in non-age-restricted social media posts. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

New rules for underage protection

The UK’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has unveiled a set of rules banning soccer clubs from promoting sportsbooks on their social media accounts.

The gambling industry body outlined the new code of conduct on its website on Monday. Soccer teams must not provide links to gambling websites or “calls to action” in posts from their official pages. The code also prohibits any bonuses or odds on posts that could be viewed by those under the age of 18.

The council took to Twitter to announce the new code of conduct:

Explaining the need for such a ban, it cited a lack of protection for young people on social media. According to the UK body, soccer team posts allow under-18s to get around strict measures preventing them from seeing betting adverts online.

Further details of the code

The code of conduct sets out a list of rules for different categories of social media posts, including both age-gated and non-age-gated ones. Operators and soccer teams must adhere to the new rules by March 1, 2021.

non-age-gated posts must not include the handles of betting companies, links, bonus offers, or odds

For posts with no age restrictions, the BGC has established eight rules, essentially constituting a ban on gambling promotion. Any non-age-gated posts must not include the handles of betting companies, links, bonus offers, or odds. The BGC also banned retweets from gambling companies.

In contrast, posts restricted to under-18s must adhere to more lenient rules. Age-gated posts must include 18+ messaging and promote UK gambling charity GambleAware. They must also include the symbol [AD] to label themselves as advertisements.

The BGC said it has written to the UK’s soccer leagues to highlight its new regulations. The body has also sent a letter to Twitter and Facebook calling for the introduction of age-gating for all social media accounts.

Commenting on the new rules, Brigid Simmonds, chairman of the BGC, described soccer clubs as “an important part of the sporting fabric” of the UK. She said the BGC’s members, including Entain, Bet365, and William Hill, share a “zero tolerance approach” to underage gambling.

Soccer teams and gambling sponsorship

Gambling sponsorship in soccer has caused controversy in the UK over the past few years. This season, a total of eight out of 20 English Premier League clubs have a front-of-shirt sponsorship deal with a gambling company. Only three of the UK’s top-flight clubs have no ties with such businesses.

As raised by the BGC, there has also been a growing trend of soccer teams promoting betting partners via their social media channels. In January, current top three team Leicester City took to Twitter to promote betting offers from its training kit partner Parimatch:

Later that month, top English club Arsenal posted a similar Twitter promotion for their sportsbook partner Sportsbet, prompting criticism on social media.   

Members of Parliament will discuss the subject of soccer gambling sponsorship during a current review of the UK’s gambling regulation. According to a report from The Telegraph, a ban on gambling sponsors on soccer shirts is increasingly likely with government concern over problem gambling growing.

Based on current sponsorship deals, UK soccer clubs would lose out on £110m ($153.2m) per year if Prime Minister Boris Johnson enacted a ban on the activity.