Nigel Adams, the UK Minister for Sports and Digital (DCMS), has stated that ‘football’s link with betting’ will form a key part of the government’s ‘imminent review’ of the 2005 Gambling Act.
Interviewed by BBC Sport, Adams detailed concerns on football being ‘too dependent’ on gambling sponsorships, as the DCMS Minister outlined the government’s agenda for UK sports.
Adams revealed that he had held conversations with FA Chief Executive Mark Bullingham in the wake of criticism of football governance for allowing FA Cup matches to be streamed on bookmaker websites as part of a third-party media agreement.
Speaking to the FA, DCMS has informed football executives that gambling sponsorships will be reviewed by the government evaluating whether to categorise betting in the same criteria as tobacco prohibiting all forms of club sponsorship and marketing.
“’It’s right that in the new review of the Gambling Act, we will look at all these issues,” Adams told BBC Sport. “I’m sure the link between gambling and football will form part of the review, which is going to be quite imminent.”
Of particular concern for DCMS is whether betting sponsorships have ‘normalised gambling amongst younger fans’, as half of all Premier League clubs carry a betting sponsor on their matchday shirts. The English Football League (EFL) is title sponsored by Sky Bet.
The 2019/2020 football season has seen all listed UK betting firms revise their sponsorship portfolios to promote responsible gambling and social responsibility directives.
As part of its ‘Bettor Commitment’ mandate, FTSE-listed GVC Holdings would donate all active football sponsorships to UK charities, no longer participating in sponsorships as a marketing discipline.
Meanwhile, Sky Bet has reconfigured its EFL sponsorship by enforcing all 72 competing clubs to promote responsible gambling across their matchday shirts and stadia, in addition to investing £1 million towards the education of gambling harms for EFL clubs, communities and athletes.
Further to assessing betting sponsorships, Nigel Adams disclosed that DCMS would investigate football club financing and racism incidents as part of the department’s 2020 agenda.
A new review of Gambling Act will be undertaken as the Conservative government vows to ‘make Britain the safest place to be online’ – a commitment pledged during last December’s 2019 General Election campaign.