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Survey claims strong fan support for gambling sponsorship ban

| By Daniel O'Boyle
A new survey from Clean up Gambling, a body lobbying for stricter regulation of the British gambling industry, claims that fans broadly support an end to gambling's commercial involvement in football.
Football tactics board player tracking

An invitation to complete the Survation poll was sent to football supporters across the UK, with 1,006 opting to respond.

When presented with the statement, “All gambling advertising, sponsorship and promotion in football should end”, 44% of respondents said they agreed, of whom 21% strongly agreed. Meanwhile, 34% disagreed, with 13% saying they did so strongly.

A spokesperson for industry body the Betting and Gaming Council, however, said that advertising in football is a necessary measure in order to both support the broadcast of football in the UK and keep players within the regulated market.

“While betting helps to provide sports such as football with funding, it also enables TV channels to broadcast more sport than would otherwise be possible and plays a vital role in differentiating legally licensed operators from those in the black market who have none of the safety protections in place with UK operators,” the BGC spokesperson said.

The survey found a similar portion of respondents calling specifically for a ban on gambling sponsorship, with 47% agreeing that “Gambling companies shouldn’t be allowed to sponsor football clubs”, including 24% who strongly agreed. On the other hand, 32% of respondents disagreed, including 13% who strongly disagreed.

When given the statement “I wouldn’t buy my club’s shirt if it had a gambling logo on it”, 34% agreed, but a larger portion disagreed, with 44% suggesting they would still buy the shirts.

Gambling sponsorship in football has drawn criticism from anti-industry groups such as the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm, which called for a ban on all kinds of gambling advertising, as well as by the House of Lords, called for a ban specifically on gambling sponsorship in sport.

Although research from Enders Analysis noted the industry’s “whistle-to-whistle” ban, which prevents operators from showing gambling advertisements during live sport before the 9pm watershed, has cut the number of ads seen by children by 97%, respondents said this did not go far enough. 

A total of 67% of respondents said the ban “has not prevented children seeing gambling brands in football”. Those who disagreed totalled 9% of those polled.

Similarly, 66% of respondents said there were too many gambling advertisements connected to football on television, whereas just 16% disagreed with this statement.

The whistle-to-whistle ban was introduced on 1 August 2019 aftering being announced by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling in December 2018.

When asked if there were too many football teams sponsored by gambling businesses, 59% of respondents said they agreed, compared to 19% that disputed this assertion. 

The figures were very similar when it came to gambling advertising in football stadiums. Again, 59% of respondents agreed that operators’ branding had too much of a presence in stadiums, with 18% disagreeing.

The BGC spokesperson added that its members have taken steps to ensure gambling advertising is responsible and awaits the expected review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

“The BGC has introduced tough new measures to further prevent under-18s viewing betting ads online and our members have agreed that at least 20% of their TV and radio adverts must be safer gambling messages.

“The BGC is determined to drive up standards across the betting and gaming industry and looks forward to working with the Government on its forthcoming gambling review to do just that.”

In 2019, the English Football League’s supporter survey found that 62% of Football League fans found gambling sponsorship, “acceptable with suitable safeguards to protect the young and problem gamblers”. A further 9% found gambling sponsorship deals “acceptable under all circumstances’.

A previous poll commissioned by Clean Up Gambling in June claimed the British public is strongly in favour of new restrictions including a stake limit for online slots and a deposit limit for all operators. The poll found that 79% of those surveyed supported stake limits, with 25% in favour of a limit between £1.00 and £1.99 and 30% a limit between £2.00 and £4.99.

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