Gambling Logos Draw Fire for Appearing Over 700 Times in Single UK Soccer Game

  • Football’s Gambling Addiction will premiere June 7 on Channel 4 at 3:30pm CET
  • Ruth Davidson, an influential former Scottish Conservative, presents the documentary
  • Davidson: Gambling industry’s relationship with soccer a “parasite that’s taking over the host” 
  • BGC said a study showed no evidence that such sponsorships influenced participation in betting
  • An anonymous source said gambling entities encourage soccer bettors to try casino games

 

Ruben Neves of Wolverhampton Wanderers
A documentary has placed the UK gambling industry in the hot seat after it reported that gambling logos appeared over 700 times in a single English Premier League soccer match. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Logos ever-present despite ad ban

With the UK government currently reviewing gambling laws, Channel 4 documentary Football’s Gambling Addiction added fire to the debate by reporting that gambling logos appeared over 700 times in a single UK Premier League soccer match.

Scheduled to air on June 7 at 7:30pm Greenwich Mean Time (3:30pm ET), the documentary has already stirred up a media hornet’s nest. Football’s Gambling Addiction’s TV production company, Firecrest Films, took to Twitter today to say the documentary is “Pick of the Day across the papers:”

In the hour-long documentary presented by influential former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson — who called for a “radical rethink” of the relationship between the sport and betting — the 716 logos appeared at a rate of over six per minute during a Newcastle United vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers soccer match.

Newcastle United’s team shirts sport the logos of their Chinese sportsbook sponsor Fun888, while Wolverhampton Wanderers have the same sponsorship setup with Malta-based sportsbook ManBetX.

Evidence of the multiple gambling “exposures” came from an “analysis using methodology drawn up by Dr Robin Ireland” at the University of Glasgow, the UK’s Guardian reported Monday.

Describing the gambling industry’s relationship with soccer as a “parasite that’s taking over the host” Davidson’s weight as a life peer places sponsorship deals, which the UK government is also reviewing, under intense scrutiny.

Drumming up support

Documentary director Jennifer Shaw also called on high-profile television presenter and former England soccer star Gary Lineker to show his support of the show via Twitter:

In calling for Lineker to hit retweet, Shaw said she believed the sports personality was “also passionate” about the “issue.”

While the UK Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) introduced in 2019 the industry-wide “whistle-to-whistle” ban on betting-related TV advertising during afternoon games, Ireland’s research discovered that gambling brands remain “constantly visible.” According to a study released by Enders Analysis in August 2020, the whistle-to-whistle ban reportedly cut down on children viewing gambling commercials by 97%.

According to the Guardian, John Whittingdale MP, the Conservative junior minister overseeing the gambling review at the UK’s department for digital, culture, media and sport, is “unconvinced curbs on advertising are likely.” Whittingdale, who Davidson interviewed on Football’s Gambling Addiction, cited a “lack of evidence” linking advertising to addiction.

A spokesperson for the BGC also responded to the upcoming documentary, citing a recent study from Professor Ian McHale from the University of Liverpool. McHale’s study, according to the BGC, found there was “no evidence that sponsorship of clubs or leagues by betting operators influenced participation in betting.”

Are soccer bettors lured to casino sites?

For the documentary, Davidson, who also plays soccer, spoke to ex-addicts, soccer franchises, campaigners, and academics. One of those academics was Dr Ireland, who shared news of his PhD research appearing on the documentary via Twitter:

Another academic who appeared on the documentary, albeit anonymously, led Davidson to draw attention to gambling entities that encourage soccer bettors to try casino games, which the Guardian states typically come with “higher rates of addiction than sports betting.”

brands were applying algorithms to find customers they could get to wager more or try other products

The anonymous data scientist and ex-employee of wagering firms said the “real money” comes from making soccer “customers bet on casino as well.” The inside source also said betting brands were applying algorithms to find customers they could get to wager more or try other products via incentives like bonuses and free bets.

“If you see someone is spending a lot, you’ll want to make sure they’re doing it regularly,” the unnamed source said.