In an attempt to clamp down on gambling-related harm, a House of Lords committee have called to implement a ban on gambling sports sponsorship.
The select committee have said that the liberalisation of gambling through the use of the Gambling Act in 2005 has created a “perfect storm” of addiction among gamblers. The use of smart phones and a “soft-touch regulation” has made gambling accessible 24/7 to gambling addicts according to the House of Lords select committee.
Chaired by former ITV and BBC chairman Lord Grade, the committee expects the government and regulator, the Gambling Commission, to make prompt changes. Many of the 66 recommendations proposed in the report by the House of Lords committee do not require legislation, suggesting they are all “urgent” if lives are going to be saved and consumers are to be protected.
In addition, the report states that bookmakers should no longer be permitted to advertise on sports teams’ jerseys and any other parts of their kit. The report also includes that there should be no advertising of gambling operators surrounding the sports field and venue, including sports programmes. This was included in the recommendations for advertising section of the report.
The report follows these recommendations stating that these restrictions should not take effect for football clubs below the Premier League before 2023, giving similar flexibility to other sports, while horse racing and greyhound racing should be excluded.
Richard Masters, chief executive of the Premier League, said in February that the league was in favour of betting company shirt sponsorship. Although, Masters did clarify that the highest level of English football would cooperate with the government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act but would support the use of betting companies using shirt sponsorship in the league.
Back in 2019, the U.K. government said they would conduct a review of gambling regulations to tackle gambling addiction as the last major review into the issue was carried out in 2001.
Half of the Premier League’s shirts were emblazoned with a gambling company’s logo during the 2019/20 season, which reignited concern about the normalisation of betting among young fans at the beginning of the season. These are: Aston Vila (W88), Bournemouth (M88), Burnley (LoveBet), Crystal Palace (ManBetX), Everton (SportPesa), Newcastle United (Fun88), Norwich City (Dafabet), Watford (Sportsbet.io), West Ham United (Betway) and Wolves (ManBetX). Not to mention clubs have betting companies as sponsorship partners included in their portfolio.
All but Betway are mainly based in Asia or Africa, using the league’s global appeal to enter markets outside of the UK to gain brand awareness.
The report has said, “The social responsibility code of practice must be amended to prohibit licensees from offering bet to view inducements, such as making the watching of a sport conditional on having an account with a gambling operator or placing a bet with an operator.
“The consequence of this will be that the Football Association, any other body with the rights to show football matches, and anybody with similar rights in relation to other sports, will no longer be able to sell those rights to licensed gambling operators. We hope that they will see the wisdom of not attempting to sell those rights to unlicensed operators.”
Lord Grade commented on the report saying, “Most people who gamble, enjoy it safely. However, gambling-related harm has made the lives of two million people miserable. It leads to hundreds of people each year taking their own lives, leaving families and friends devastated.
“The behaviour of some gambling operators, where vulnerable people were targeted with inducements to continue gambling when the operators knew they could not afford to, shocked the committee.
“Urgent action by the government is required. Lax regulation of the gambling industry must be replaced by a more robust and focussed regime which prioritises the welfare of gamblers ahead of industry profits.”
Author: James Parker