Football sponsorships under review

Publish: 20.09.2018
Gambling advertisements on TV have caught the attention of UK lawmakers who are concerned about the gambling sponsorship deals in the English Premier League. The deals have already sparked a nationwide controversy as new issues emerge every passing day. This could be the UK government’s most important trial in the gambling industry since the resolution of the controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) a few months ago.

The Casino Guardian has reported that the number of gambling advertising during live sports broadcasts, especially football matches has increased steadily over the years. Charity organizations as well as the regulators as raised several questions on the trend, claiming that such advertising could be harmful to vulnerable viewers. Impressionable followers of the game, especially children, could view gambling as normal, thereby increasing gambling-related harms.

Opposers of gambling advertising during sporting events have consistently campaigned for creating stricter rules against such ads in the UK. The campaigners emphasize keeping under-aged individuals and other vulnerable populations protected from gambling advertising, especially during daytime hours. They have also urged the government to ban gambling ads from TV altogether before the water. They have also asked the government to outlaw sponsorship agreements between gambling companies and English Premier League football clubs.

The UK could take a cue from other countries trying to impose strict regulations on online gambling operations. Currently, the UK regulations are one of the most balanced in the world. The regulator- UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) currently managed both offline and online gambling activities. Over 95% of the gambling operators in the UK currently pay taxes on their revenue.

With such good numbers at hand, the regulator may think twice before imposing very strict regulation on the shirt sponsorship deals and TV advertising deals of the gambling operators. The restrictive approach could turn harmful. Eight of the nine gambling operators active in the EPL as sponsors for the 2018/19 event come from Asia where regulations are either absent or very ineffective.

In addition to this, the regulators must consider that even sports are turning digital these days, and the gambling industry is also making its presence felt online. Online sports betting is more convenient for the customers, who are consuming sports data digitally. Suspending gambling advertising fully will be unwise for the government. Instead of acting on whims, the regulators could make their licensing policies better and update the gambling companies to the highest possible standards of ethical code, ensuring user safety in the process.