Harris urges shirt sponsorship ban in new Gambling Act

The appearance of betting company logos on football shirts ‘normalises’ gambling to children, argued Carolyn Harris MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm, as she called for a ban on betting companies being front-of-shirt sponsors within the new Gambling Act.

Reported by the Guardian, Harris reiterated that banning gambling companies from being front-of-shirt sponsors is ‘one of the most obvious things to do’ while expressing that even though she has ‘no problem’ with sponsorship, it needs to be ‘far more family-friendly instead of things that cause addiction’. 

The recommendation from Harris has also been shared by the House of Lords Select Committee on Gambling which this month published its ‘Time for Action’ report on industry safe gambling directives.

“I think the government needs to do more to support football clubs in terms of finances,” she said. “It’s the loyalty thing for kids that really worries me. Kids do see it as being loyal to their football club to use that bookmaker for gambling. Fifa 2020 replicates [reality] entirely. If your team has a gambling logo, on the game it shows that gambling logo.

“From a very, very early age we’ve normalised the association between football and gambling. This is where we get this problem in later life. Young people grow up believing to become involved in gambling is completely normal without knowing anything about the consequences of when it crosses that line.

“It’s one of the most obvious things to do and all the groups who have reported or commented on this have said it is an area [ministers] need to tackle immediately. So I’m quite confident that will happen.”

It comes after the Spanish government introduced a ban on gambling companies from sponsoring La Liga teams, which is due to affect eight sides in the league.

In the Premier League, nine out of 20 teams are sponsored by a betting company, increasing to 17 of the 24 Championship teams. Yet, earlier this month, the House of Lords select committee recommended that a ban should not be implemented below Premier League level before 2023.

Prior to the House of Lords publishing its report, betting leadership had stated its commitment to reduce marketing exposure through football.

Last season, GVC Holdings donated its entire UK football sponsorship portfolio to Cancer charities, whilst Sky Bet the title sponsor the English Football League states that it will only promote responsible gambling advertising to football audiences.

Entering 2020, DCMS Sports Minister announced that a revision of ‘football links with betting’ would play a central part in how the government reviews the 2005 Gambling Act.

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