White Paper Fails To Ease Pressure On UK Gambling Ads

July 3, 2023
Back
Despite its notable absence from the government's policy white paper, the issue of gambling advertising in football continues to drive headlines in the UK, as pressure groups maintain their demands for action.

Body

Despite its notable absence from the government's policy white paper, the issue of gambling advertising in football continues to drive headlines in the UK, as pressure groups maintain their demands for action.

Ad bans that include all sports events, albeit with some grace periods, came into effect over the weekend in Belgium and the Netherlands, but Premier League clubs in England continue to court sometimes controversial gambling sponsors.

This is despite a voluntary agreement between the clubs to end shirt-front sponsorship from the end of the 2025/26 season in Summer 2026. That code will still allow for gambling sponsors to appear on shirt sleeves and other pieces of attire, as well as on the highly visible pitch-side hoardings during games.

The question now is whether the terms of this agreement will still be relevant by the time 2026 rolls around, given the intensity with which campaigners continue to apply pressure to government.

On Friday (June 30), charity Gambling With Lives responded to the findings of a survey conducted by the Football Supporters Association, a body that represents fans in England and Wales, which found that 73 percent of the around 10,000 football fans questioned agreed with the statement: “I am concerned about the amount of gambling advertising and sponsorship in football.”

“We don’t need a survey to show how unpopular gambling ads in football are, but this poll confirms the overwhelming amount of fans don’t want the beautiful game tarnished by advertising for addictive and harmful products,” said a spokesperson for The Big Step, a campaign to end gambling ads in football that operates as a part of Gambling With Lives.

“Across the world organisations and governments are ending all forms of gambling advertising. It’s time for football clubs and authorities in the UK to listen to their fans and do the same,” the spokesperson said.

The charity’s founders, Liz and Charles Ritchie, made national news in the UK last week when they claimed that Prince William had expressed his concerns over gambling advertising in sport, as he awarded them MBEs.

The heir to the British throne is an avid Aston Villa fan, the club having recently signed a three-year deal with Asia-facing operator BK8.

"He made it very clear that he didn't approve of the sponsorship,” Charles Ritchie told the BBC.

Premier League giants Chelsea have also drawn widespread coverage over a reported deal with Stake.com, which operates as a cryptocurrency casino in some markets. The operator already sponsors Everton.

And in just the last week, Fulham inked a deal with Isle-of-Man based SBOTOP to become the team’s front-of-shirt sponsor and newly promoted Burnley agreed a similar partnership with W88.

Of these four brands, only W88 is directly licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, under the name Midnight Gaming, with the others permitted to advertise in the UK only via a white-label partnership with Isle of Man-based TGP Europe.

Over the weekend, a National Health Service (NHS) executive also publicly criticised clubs for continuing to ink deals with gambling companies.

Amanda Pritchard, the head of NHS England, said clubs should “think seriously” about the deals.

Speaking on BBC Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Pritchard described severe gambling addiction as a "cruel disease" and a "life destroyer".

“We’ve had three [clubs} this week that have entered into deals with gambling industry providers for shirt sponsorship, which means that it’s kids that are seeing every day now messages that say gambling is OK,” she said.

“It would be really great to see the gambling industry, and also organisations like football clubs, really think seriously about their responsibilities here.”

Shirt sponsorship deals mean "that it's kids that are seeing every day now messages that say gambling is OK", she said.

Pressure to outlaw these kinds of partnerships sooner than 2026 is also coming from within the halls of power.

In Westminster, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Gambling Related Harm has cited a demand for more action on gambling advertising as one of the tent-poles of its inquiry into the white paper.

It took APPG vice chair and former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith mere minutes on the day the UK government announced its proposals to reform gambling regulation to complain about the relative absence of advertising in the plan.

The group said it was also “disappointed” to see a lack of action taken on white-label operations and called for “much more” to be done to tighten rules around the system.

Additional reporting by Dan Townend.

Our premium content is available to users of our services.

To view articles, please Log-in to your account, or sign up today for full access:

Opt in to hear about webinars, events, industry and product news

To find out more about Vixio, contact us today
No items found.