EPL Clubs Escape Gambling Sponsor Ban as Details of UK Reform Emerge

  • Ministers have apparently tossed plans to ban front-of-shirt EPL gambling sponsorships
  • According to a government source, the white paper on reform will go public within weeks
  • The reform will also supposedly include a £2-£5 ($2.44-$6.09) stake cap for online casinos
  • Meanwhile, retail casinos can offer credit to foreign high-rollers, operate 80 gaming machines
West Ham's Robert Snodgrass
A leak of the imminent reform of the UK Gambling Act 2005 reveals ministers have suprisingly chosen not to ban gambling firms from sponsoring EPL teams. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Welcome news for gambling partners

According to media reports, the UK government will publish the results of its much-delayed Gambling Act 2005 review soon. While its release has likely set many gambling operators on edge, a leak of the report has provided some welcome news for them.

MPs hope to form a voluntary agreement

As reported by The Times’ political editor Steven Swinford on Tuesday, UK government ministers have tossed plans to ban gambling companies from sponsoring English Premier League (EPL) soccer shirts. Instead, MPs hope to form a voluntary agreement with the various EPL franchises with the option of legislation as a backup.

For over two years, the UK government has heard arguments for and against gambling sponsorships — from the well-organized UK gambling industry pushing economic benefits, and the politically influential anti-gambling sector rallying around addiction statistics and gambling harms.

Digital in the detail

Hours after The Times broke its story, the Independent cited a spokesperson for the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport who confirmed the white paper will become public in the “coming weeks.” The spokesperson added the “comprehensive review” would ensure the refreshed gambling laws were “fit for the digital age.”

In addition to its segment on gambling sponsorship, the white paper will reportedly also announce affordability checks and a £2-£5 ($2.44-$6.09) stake cap for online casinos. It will also nix free wagers and ban VIP packages for heavy losers.

the green light to install a maximum of 80 gaming machines

The UK’s retail casinos, meanwhile, will get something of a much-needed boost. Brick-and-mortar casinos, according to The Times, will get the green light to install a maximum of 80 gaming machines — 60 more than currently allowed.

Retail casinos can also open a credit line for foreign high-rollers, forming what the Independent said was part of an attempt to “level the playing field” with their online contemporaries.

UKGC’s new powers

Another key take-out from the leaked review is that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) will receive “new powers and additional funding from an increase in fees paid by the industry.”

Acknowledgment by the government of the UKGC’s importance to the industry will give the increasingly embattled gambling regulator a much-needed boost.

The UKGC is currently facing multiple lawsuits in the High Court for awarding the UK National Lottery license to Czech firm Allwyn Entertainment in March.