UK Regulator to Ban Soccer Players, Celebrities From Appearing in Gambling Ads

  • The UK Committee of Advertising Practice ban will come into place on October 1, 2022
  • The measure aims to protect underage people and other types of vulnerable groups
  • Many notable sportspeople and influencers have appeared in gambling ads in recent years
  • The UK government also looks set to ban gambling companies from sponsoring sports teams
Two soccer players during a game
A ban is coming into place in the UK preventing sportspeople and celebrities from appearing in gambling ads. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Protecting at-risk groups

The UK Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has decided to ban sportspeople and celebrities from appearing in gambling ads, believing it will protect underage people and other vulnerable groups.

coming into place on October 1, 2022

In addition, the CAP will also ban certain team stadiums and jerseys in video games and ad content because of gambling-related sponsors. These changes will come into place on October 1, 2022, in time for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Specifically, the CAP outlines that any social media influencers, celebrities, and sportspeople with strong appeal to young people can no longer appear in lottery or gambling ads. Many soccer players have huge numbers of underage followers.

The ban covers all forms of broadcast and non-broadcast media.

Time for a change

Over the years, many notable soccer players and managers have appeared in gambling advertising campaigns. This includes legendary manager Jose Mourinho and global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Gambling companies often sponsor different types of social media content involving past players and managers.

The existing advertising rules only ban ads likely to appeal to underage people. According to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), children see an average of 2.2 gambling-related ads each week.

One leading proponent for curtailing gambling ads is former England and Arsenal star Paul Merson. He has been very forthcoming about his struggles with gambling over the years. Merson believes that television ads are a “major trigger” for gambling addicts. He recently stated that seeing former managers and players appearing in gambling ads sickens him.

Other measures on the horizon

The ASA does not have the ability to regulate team sponsorships, but there are also changes on the horizon in this area. The UK government has nearly completed its long-running review of gambling legislation.

planning to ban gambling-related companies from sponsoring sports teams

As part of its recommendations, the government is reportedly planning to ban gambling-related companies from sponsoring sports teams. A huge portion of professional soccer clubs in the UK have jersey sponsorships or other types of partnership agreements with gambling firms.

Last week, a group of 20 teams in English soccer came together to show their support for banning gambling ads. They wrote a letter to lawmakers calling for a complete ban on gambling advertising in the game. However, many other teams have noted the necessity of these deals for their survival.