EPL Teams Probed Over Gambling Links on Kids’ Web Pages

Posted on: November 5, 2021, 06:33h. 

Last updated on: November 5, 2021, 11:12h.

BBC Sport reported this week that Seven English soccer teams, including the EPL’s Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham, and Aston Villa, displayed direct links to betting sites on the children’s pages of their websites.

Premier League
Spurs’ Lucas Moura skips past Arsenal’s Ben White at the recent North London Derby, which Arsenal won 3-1. Both teams have been called out by the BBC over gambling links on pages meant for children. (Image: Reuters)

The links contravened the UK Gambling Commission’s regulations on gambling advertising, as well as the country’s Advertising Codes, issued by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP).

According to the BBC, at the time it published its findings late Thursday, West Ham was still displaying a link to its main sponsor, Betway, on its junior “coloring in” page, along with a picture of a teddy bear. The link has since been removed.

The other teams swiftly removed their links after being contacted by the BBC earlier in the week.

Regulator to Investigate

“We sincerely regret this error and have adjusted our practices to ensure this does not happen again,” a Tottenham spokesperson told the BBC. “We apologize for any offense caused.”

Along with the four EPL teams, QPR, Millwall, and Reading from English soccer’s second tier, the Championship, also breached the rules.

QPR said: “The [team] appreciates this issue being raised. The link has subsequently been removed and an internal investigation will now take place to understand how this has happened and to ensure it does not occur again.”

The UK Gambling Commission confirmed it would investigate after being contacted by the BBC.

“Gambling advertising and sponsor credits must not appear on any web pages that are directed at under-18,” it said. “Sports teams should be ensuring that all content on such webpages is appropriate for children, and we expect gambling companies to take responsibility for where their adverts and logos appear.”

Potential Ad Ban

While sports teams in the US are clamoring to capitalize on newly liberalized sports betting laws, the UK represents the flipside. The UK Gambling Act 2005 liberalized gambling advertising across the board. Now, 16 years down the line, its pervasive presence around sports has led to a public backlash.

Critics fear that heavy advertising around soccer is normalizing gambling for children. This season, eight out of 20 EPL teams have jersey sponsorship deals with betting companies. But 17 also have “betting partners” that have branding in stadiums and on team websites and social media.

Lawmakers are considering severing the link between soccer and gambling by banning betting company advertising around sports as part of an ongoing review of the Gambling Act. But there are concerns this could lead to financial hardship for teams in the lower leagues, still reeling from the financial pressures of the pandemic.