Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm (GRH APPG), spoke about gambling sponsorships, reiterating that it is ‘one of the most obvious things to do’ to bar gambling firms from being front-of-shirt sponsors.
Reported by the Guardian, Harris said a new Gambling Act should prohibit shirt sponsorships across all English football leagues – a recommendation shared by the House of Lords Select Committee on Gambling which published its ‘Time for Action’ report on industry-safer gambling directives this month.
Harris said: “I think the government needs to do more to support football clubs in terms of finances,” she said. “I’ve got no problem with sponsorship but it needs to be something that is far more family-friendly instead of things that can cause addiction. It’s the messaging that’s really important. It’s a family environment and therefore the sponsorship needs to come from a family organisation.
“It’s one of the most obvious things to do and all the groups who have reported or commented on this have said it is an area [ministers] need to tackle immediately. So I’m quite confident that will happen.”
It comes after the Spanish government imposed a ban on the sponsorship of La Liga teams by gambling firms, which is due to affect eight league teams.
In the Premier League, a betting firm sponsors nine out of 20 clubs, rising to 17 out of the 24 teams in the Championships.
Before his report was published by the House of Lords, betting leadership had stated its commitment to reducing marketing exposure through football.
Last season, FTSE100 GVC Holdings donated its entire portfolio of UK football sponsorships to Cancer charities, while Sky Bet the English Football League title sponsor notes that it will only support responsible gambling advertising to football viewers.
Entering 2020, the DCMS Sports Minister will play a key role in how the government updates the 2005 Gambling Act by revising the ‘football ties with betting.’
“It’s the loyalty thing for kids that really worries me. Kids do see it as being loyal to their football club to use that bookmaker for gambling. Fifa 2020 replicates [reality] entirely. If your team has a gambling logo, on the game it shows that gambling logo.
“From a very, very early age we’ve normalised the association between football and gambling. This is where we get this problem in later life. Young people grow up believing to become involved in gambling is completely normal without knowing anything about the consequences of when it crosses that line.”