Bookmakers Stand Firm On Proposed Labour Advertising Ban
September 7, 2017
Bookmakers have united to oppose Labour party plans to ban the use of football shirts as a form of advertising for gambling companies. The industry has taken this stance after coming under attack following two high-profile incidents in the last few weeks. Last month the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) released findings that suggested there are around 430,000 problem gamblers in the UK. Then there was a settlement from 888Sport after the operator allowed an estimated 7,000 to continue gambling, after self-excluding.
Labour Party Plans To Ban Shirt Sponsorship
In order to tackle the issue of problem gambling, Labour intends to ban betting companies from signing shirt sponsorship deals with football clubs. The party has used the recent negativity surrounding the gambling industry as a platform on which to build its case. Deputy leader Tom Watson wants football to “play its part in tackling Britain’s hidden epidemic of gambling addiction” by stopping gaming-related advertising. The MP for West Bromwich also indicated that the party would put significant pressure on the Football Association to enforce a ban itself and would be prepared to introduce the legislation if necessary.
“Shirt sponsorship sends out a message that football clubs don’t take problem gambling among their own fans seriously enough. It puts gambling brands in front of fans of all ages, not just at matches but on broadcasts and highlights packages on both commercial television and the BBC.”
The proposed ban on shirt advertising has been widely condemned by those in the gambling industry. Bookmakers have cited a serious lack of evidence and called the plan ‘rubbish’. So far, there has been no word on the issue from the FA. Should the Labour Party come to power, it’s expected that any such ban will be contested.
While the UKGC findings suggest a link between increased advertising and gambling addiction, it must also be noted that there has also been an increase in televised sport. The betting and gaming industry accounted for just 3% of the UK’s TV ad spend last year. It can also be argued that there are adverts for plenty of products that are more harmful than gambling.
Which Football Clubs Could Be Affected?
Nine Premier League sides have gambling related sponsors on the front of their shirts, plus three from the Scottish Premiership. Watford and West Brom also have bookmaker logos on the sleeves of their jerseys. Take a look at the table below to see which Premier League teams might be affected. We have highlighted the gambling sponsors in bold.
|Manchester City||Etihad Airways|
|West Brom||12Bet (sleeve)|
With the above deals costing millions of pounds, Labour’s plans will have serious ramifications for over half of the English top flight and a number of teams within the Football League too. Shirt sponsorship is a key revenue source for football clubs and a ban for betting sites could adversely affect a number of teams financially.