Twenty English Soccer Teams Get Behind Initiative to Ban Gambling Ads

Posted on: April 1, 2022, 06:16h. 

Last updated on: April 1, 2022, 01:31h.

The love-hate relationship between sports and gambling is beginning to emphasize the latter. A large pool of soccer teams in the UK wants the country to ban all gambling advertising in sports.

Bolton Wanderers
Players of the Bolton Wanderers soccer team in the UK’s EFL hold up a banner promoting Sky Bet last year. The team is one of several now protesting all gambling advertising in sports. (Image: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

The UK is close to presenting its updated gambling laws for final approval. Changes to how gambling companies are able to advertise are among the many reforms coming. Nigel Huddleston, the Parliamentary undersecretary for digital, culture, media and sport, believes that advertising is a worthwhile component because it separates licensed and unlicensed players.

But Huddleston may be in the minority. There is a large push for stricter controls on gambling ads coming from all sectors. Several soccer teams are joining that push.

A debate over the relationship between sports and gambling advertising, including sponsorships, has been in place for several years. Despite the financial benefits, more soccer teams are urging lawmakers to make drastic changes.

UK Sports to Cut Down on Gambling Ads

English Football League (EFL) and non-affiliated teams – 20 in total – penned a letter to lawmakers this week, according to the Daily Mail. They call for a complete ban on gambling advertising in soccer. This would include sponsorships and branding deals.

A ban on gambling logos on shirts would be a significant acceptance of the harm caused, but we would encourage you to include all gambling advertising in stadiums and competition sponsorship so every young fan can go to any football match – home and away – free of inducements to gamble,” states a group of UK soccer teams in a letter to the government.

Luton, Bolton, Tranmere, Forest Green, and others signed the letter. They assert that they want to show that soccer can survive without revenue from gambling advertising.

The teams aren’t alone in their position. This week, Kylian Mbappé had voluntarily refused to attend various events of the French national team with some sponsors. The popular PSG striker has clearly stated that he does not want to participate in advertising campaigns with bookmakers because they are an “addiction for young children.”

Not All EFL Teams Agree

Although there is significant support from soccer teams for the ban, not everyone agrees. Some EFL bosses point out that they are strapped for cash and that new sponsorship deals aren’t pouring in. The income they receive through gambling sponsorships and advertising helps keep them afloat.

Both the Premier League and the EFL recently lost another source of income that provided guaranteed revenue each year. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent move to sanctions forced them to call off broadcasting rights deals in Russia. This could lead to a loss of £6 million (US$7.87 million) a year, depending on how long the deal stays off the table.

There’s no doubt that the new gambling laws in the UK will include changes to how gambling companies interact with consumers. A complete ban, however, is likely not in the cards. If teams feel they can stay financially solid without assistance from the sector, they can choose not to sign any deals.