It was last year when the topic of gambling companies’ advertisements on athletes’ shirts first came up. Ever since then we could not hear much from the clubs or the regulators of the field. But now it looks like Premier League is ready to take the first step in connection with banning the gambling shirt sponsorship.
We can agree on one thing: gambling companies are all around us. We can see their advertisements on online gambling news sites in the UK, on sports events, broadcasted on television, on real-life sports events – though we cannot see much of those lately – and so on. When it comes to sports events, their possibilities are almost infinite. They are there on boards around courts and fields, on ejectives during commercials, and even on the shirts of athletes. And this is the concern of the House of Lord committee in the UK. It is because these practices can – even should – make more people gambling and make people gamble more. And problem gambling in the UK is a real deal. Because of this, soon the authorities might come to banning gambling shirt sponsorships. The first step to this is by Premier League. The English clubs are meeting on 25 March to discuss what is next.
The report of 2020
The House of Lords Select Committee made a report on the UK’s gambling industry, addressing the harms of betting firms’ advertising. The 192-page report warns about gambling-related harm and says that they need to do more for prevention. This is alongside the review of the Gambling Act 2005. In the long report, they pointed out that gambling sponsorship on athletes’ shirts is harmful. They advised that such sponsors on Championship League clubs should be phased out by 2023. According to them, other types of sports should do the same in three years. They would also ban all kinds of gambling advertising near sports grounds and venues, including sports programs. However, they would not apply these restrictions on horseracing and greyhound racing. This means we would see less of sites like Bet365, but we could still place bets on them!
The Premier League and gambling shirt sponsorship
The Government released the review in late 2020, but they set their evidence-collecting until the end of March 2021. So, the involved clubs are waiting for the final findings on the connection between shirt sponsorships and gambling addiction. These top-flight clubs will meet on 25 March to discuss the issue. If we consider the English Premier League, eight teams currently have gambling companies as sponsors – and also on their shirts. But as many as 17 clubs started the 2020/21 seasons campaign in association with gambling companies, like Bet365. This probably will not have a good impact on online gambling sites in the UK, and their operators, but no decisions have been made so far.
What is the next step?
So, as for now, the English Premier League clubs will meet on March 25 to discuss the topic of gambling shirt sponsorship. But it is just one issue posed by the above-mentioned report and the ongoing examination of the 2005 Gambling Act. It is not yet sure if the strict measures will do any good for harmful gambling – we have to wait for the final results to state that. But it will unquestionably do harm for online sportsbook sites in the UK, as well as operators of on-site wagering. It will also cut the incomes of the football teams included. This is why Richard Masters, chief executive of the PL said last year: “If there needs to be a rebalancing, that is fine, but we do not think there should be a prohibition on sponsorship of football clubs or other sports clubs, for that matter.”