Soccer franchise slips up
English soccer franchise Norwich City Football Club is facing criticism after it emailed a promotional gambling offer to its fans, including a recovering gambling addict.
offering bonuses to bettors who signed up for a Spreadex Sports account
On Friday, the BBC reported that it had seen the emails offering bonuses to bettors who signed up for a Spreadex Sports account and placed a minimum bet. The Norwich fan in recovery from gambling addiction who received the promotional email shared it with James Grimes, a member of charity group The Big Step.
Grimes and The Big Step are seeking an end to all gambling advertising and sponsorship in soccer. He expressed disappointment in the franchise’s slip up after gaining credibility last year for its decision to drop gambling sponsor, Asia-facing gambling brand BK8, from its shirts.
Brand reputation disaster
Norwich, currently ninth in the English Championship, has often branded itself as a ‘family club.’ Perhaps as a result, it made the decision to ditch BK8 after it came under fire for the deal last year. Critics noted provocative marketing material utilized by the Asian gambling brand which didn’t seem to align with the club’s values.
The club has failed to comment
Now, this latest promotional email debacle has brought Norwich’s family-oriented reputation into question once more. The club has failed to comment on the matter.
Grimes praised Norwich for ditching BK8 but deemed the promotional email “inexcusable.” He argued that Norwich shouldn’t entice people “whose lives have been destroyed by gambling” to return to the habit. Grimes admonished Norwich for the gambling promotion, stating: “That’s not what a good, family, community football club […] should be doing.”
Norwich’s email issue couldn’t have come at a worse time, with the UK government’s white paper on gambling reform due out in a few weeks. While the new gambling reforms are allegedly not as draconian as first imagined, the UK government is nevertheless expected to ban all gambling shirt sponsorships for EPL teams.
Industry insiders have long expected the gambling act review to include limits on online casino gambling too. UK Gambling Minister Paul Scully revealed last month that this will include enhanced affordability checks, although MPs plan to rename these ‘financial risk assessments.’