The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) highlighted the financial support offered by the betting industry for UK sports that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The BGC emphasised that the likes of horseracing, snooker, football and rugby league depended on the economic lifeline offered by sponsorship, broadcast rights and levy payments from betting operators in a submission to a House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee investigation into ‘sport in our communities’.
Michael Dugher, the BGC chief executive, said: “The financial impact of the pandemic has been keenly felt by a range of sports, and I’m delighted that the betting and gaming industry has been able to step in to help out.
“Some sports are living on a knife-edge because of the ongoing ban on spectators, so the funding provided by our members is even more important than usual.
“We welcome the Government’s imminent Gambling Review, which will examine the financial relationship between sports such as football, rugby league, horseracing, snooker and darts and betting operators.
“The industry’s importance to these popular national pastimes shows why it’s vital that the Government gets the balance right, and does not drive punters towards the illegal, online black market, who have no interest in supporting sport either at a grassroots or national level.
Highlighting fears that grassroots sports are struggling to offset the financial effects of the pandemic, the BGC lauded the work of operators such as GVC Holdings, which has generated millions of pounds for lower league clubs whose revenues have been decimated by the spectator ban through its ‘Pitching In’ initiative.
None of GVC’s betting or gaming brands was marketed or used on any of the grounds in the involved leagues through the football initiative.
The submission by the BGC also highlighted the longstanding partnership between betting and sport, pointing out the decades-old ‘symbiotic relationship’ with horse and greyhound racing.
It is reported that horseracing earns about £ 200m a year in betting levies and advertising rights from betting shops.
“The sectors would not exist without the sponsorship, levies and media rights payments paid by the betting sector, and so too there would be no product to bet on,” the standards body said.
Betting and gaming operator sponsorship is worth more than £ 10 million a year to darts and snooker, while the business earns about £ 40 million a year from English Football League clubs.
The EFL said in October: “The significant contribution betting companies make to the ongoing financial sustainability of professional football at all levels is as important now as it has ever been, particularly given the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which is leaving many of our clubs living on a financial knife-edge.”