A report of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords select ccommittee recommends that the Premier League football clubs should not entertain betting firm’s logo on their game apparels. The cross-party committee, evaluating the impact of the gambling industry of the United Kingdom, also asserts the practice of wearing championship shirts sponsored by sportsbooks need to be discontinued by 2023. Besides, the other sports also have to phase out shirt betting sponsorship within these three years.
Now for this season, half of the football clubs taking part in the Premier League are sponsored by bookmaking agencies. Besides, 17 out of 24 Championship clubs also have sponsors for them.
These recommendations of the House of Lords committee are listed in a 192-page report, portray the warnings, and needed precautions for preventing all gambling centric harms. The committee also states any kind of gambling advertising activity, including sports programs near sports venues or sports grounds, should be discarded.
However, while giving some relaxation, the report says, for the football clubs that are below the Premier League, these restrictions will not be valid until 2023. A similar kind of flexibility has given for other sports like horseracing and greyhound racing.
The report also portrays an empathetic tone while stating that though removal of betting sponsors would not harm the football clubs who are taking part in the Premier League, smaller clubs can be affected. Hence, the report has offered three years for the football clubs to get settled in the changed situations. During these 3 years, clubs cannot sign any new contracts with any sportsbetting entity, but they can continue the existing ones till their termination. Besides, in this period, clubs would have enough time to look for substitute sponsors.
According to the English Football League (EFL), they collect £40 million a season from the gambling sector, and it is immensely vital for the league as well as for the football teams. Moreover, this significant contribution from the sportsbook industry assists in dealing with financial problems that appeared due to the coronavirus pandemic. While talking about the long association between football and gambling industry, it also states, cooperative efforts with betting companies for averting gambling-related issues would have been a wiser solution than a ban.
On the contrary, The Premier League, which doesn’t have a betting associate, has stated, in the government re-evaluation of the Gambling Act, it would be treated as a welcome partaker.
Chief executive Richard Masters has also included his point of view in this matter, which depicts strong governance is necessary for gambling, but the decision of whether to be associated with a betting firm or not should remain on the hands of individual clubs.
Furthermore, the report of Lords has mentioned about the inefficiency of a “whistle to whistle” ban on gambling oriented advertising. A “whistle to whistle” ban is something that starts five minutes before the match and ends five minutes after the match. Now, the efficiency is limited, since during the entire match, viewers, including minors, can spot overabundance of gambling-related advertising on player’s shirts and the parameter. Besides, the availability of advertisements like these, outside the whistle to whistle time frame, makes it more insufficient.
The chair of the committee also says that bettors, who love to wager money on sports events, desire to enjoy its security as well.
For pointing out the adverse nature of excessive gambling, the report depicts that gambling-related harm has been the prime reason for misery for two million people, which even often forces them to commit suicides, making their dear ones devastated. Along with it, some gambling operators tend to target vulnerable people. These operators often induce bettors, so that they keep on betting even when they can’t afford to. Hence, immediate actions from the government are needed for developing gambling regulations that will be more focused on the welfare of gamblers.
According to a former gambler, James Grimes, who runs a charity that deals with gamble’s association with football, the recommendation for eradicating gambling advertisements and sponsorship from Premier League, is a welcome approach. He also states about his frequent calling on government and football for decreasing the exposure of gambling to youngsters and children, so that, they don’t have to go through the misery, once he did. He says that gambling in football is now positioned at a saturation point, and it often has a tendency to normalising harmful products and practises.
However, the matter of eradicating sportsbook advertisements from the sports events is still now just a recommendation from House of Lords select committee, and the UK government does not have any obligations to transform it into an act.