A significant move by UK MPs is spotlighting the abundance of gambling adverts in football stadiums. The Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee is advocating for a reduction in betting company logos, primarily to protect children from excessive exposure.
Dame Caroline Dinenage, chair of the parliamentary group, expressed concern about the pervasive advertising in football and other sports, stressing the need for more stringent measures to limit exposure to gambling branding.
Premier League’s Shirt Sponsorship Shift
The 2022-23 football season saw eight Premier League clubs featuring gambling company logos, an annual sponsorship valued at around £60m. However, a landmark decision by Premier League clubs aims to eliminate these sponsorships from the front of match shirts by the end of the 2025-26 season.
The committee, while appreciative of this step, warns that it won’t substantially lessen the visibility of betting adverts during games. Clubs could still feature these ads on shirt sleeves and LED perimeter boards. A recent study highlighted that front-of-shirt gambling branding constitutes only a small percentage of total gambling advertising seen during broadcasts.
A Call for a New Sponsorship Code
MPs are urging the development of a new gambling sponsorship code for sports. This code should not only limit adverts in stadiums but also increase the focus on safer gambling messages. The delayed publication of this code has been criticized by the committee, which is calling for immediate action.
While a complete ban on gambling advertising isn’t proposed, the committee believes there’s room for more regulation. They suggest a different approach for sports like horse racing and greyhound racing, given their historical association with betting.
Responses from the Premier League and Government
The Premier League acknowledged its agreement to withdraw gambling sponsorships and its collaboration with the government on a responsible gambling code. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport highlighted the current stringent rules for responsible gambling advertising and expressed support for the ongoing development of industry-wide standards.
The Celebrity Advertising Ban
In a move to protect younger audiences, footballers and other celebrities were barred from appearing in gambling adverts last year. This step was welcomed, but some, like the Big Step campaign group, argue for more comprehensive measures, advocating for the complete removal of gambling ads in football.
The committee emphasizes that the “whistle-to-whistle” ban on TV betting adverts during live sports has been inadequate, as fans continue to be exposed to numerous gambling adverts. The coming months could be pivotal in determining how these recommendations reshape the landscape of gambling advertising in sports.