A group of ’50 former gambling addicts’ have sent a letter to UK football clubs, warning of the risks of supporting betting websites via their social media platforms.
A total of 11 Premier League, English Football League (EFL) and Scottish Premiership clubs were subjected to a letter informing how addicts might feel ‘distressed’ to see links on Twitter messages, for example, to operator sites and be ‘encouraged’ to place a bet on the game.
Exposure to advertising
The letter received has support from MPs Carolyn Harris and Iain Duncan Smith, as the group went on to clarify that it is ‘difficult for those of us who are addicted or in recovery’ to be exposed to such advertising.’
“It’s painful to see brands associated with unimaginable harm when doing something as simple as checking their team’s starting line-up on Twitter,” the letter continued.
“We hope that you will take this request seriously and we look forward to seeing your social media channels free of direct gambling promotion soon.”
Among the clubs that were sent the letter were Manchester City, Arsenal, Celtic, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Burnley, Watford, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Birmingham City and Coventry City.
Responding to the letter an Arsenal spokesperson said: “Our partnership with SportsBet is founded on a joint commitment to promote safe and responsible gambling. We are pleased to partner with an industry-leading organisation that takes its social and regulatory responsibility extremely seriously.
“We would encourage anyone struggling with gambling to seek confidential and professional support at www.gamstop.co.uk.”
On the basis of the Betting and Gambling Council’s (BGC) guidelines, both Google and Facebook have introduced safer gambling regulations.
Betting operators are only permitted to display advertising to users who have checked their age on video sharing sites, such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, as part of the BGC’s headline order, which was released last August, ensuring that the target audience is over 18.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced later in the year that it had seen a dramatic change in advertising related to gambling being limited to underage audiences. The ASA noted that illegally positioned online betting and gambling advertisements had dramatically decreased during the three-month stretch between July and September, from 70 ads in the first sweep to 5 ads in the second sweep.
The 2005 Gambling Act review is underway and a ban on gambling industry shirt sponsorship is likely to be endorsed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Both the Premier League and the EFL reaffirmed that their gambling promotion is carried out in a ‘responsible manner’ and that the relationship between the two is ‘mutually beneficial,’ with clubs depending heavily on betting partnership revenue in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.