Premier League Teams Slammed by National Health Service for Not Pitching in on Gambling Programs

Posted on: September 8, 2018, 10:00h. 

Last updated on: September 7, 2018, 12:05h.

The head of England’s National Health Service (NHS) is calling on English Premier League (EPL) football clubs – and the betting firms which sponsor them – to do more to tackle the issue of problem gambling.

Premier League
Burnley Football Club is one of nine EPL teams sporting gambling sponsorships on their jersey this season. (Source: The Independent)

NHS chief Simon Stevens spoke out this week, calling gambling addiction one of the “new threats” facing public health and accusing the football clubs who profit from betting of failing to pay their share for support programs.

Betting companies who sponsor teams via patches on their jerseys have been “encouraged” to contribute to a £10m ($USD 12.9 million) fund which is to be used to treat the estimated 430,000 problem gamblers in the country.

But Stevens describes their failure to pony up as “deeply concerning.”

“Taxpayers and the NHS should not be left to pick up the pieces – the health of the nation is everyone’s responsibility,” he said while speaking at the recent Health and Care Innovation Expo.

Underage gamblers are of particular concern in the UK.

A 2017 report from the Gambling Commission suggested that 370,000 kids between the ages of 11 and 16 had gambled during the course of one week — 25,000 of those are described as problem gamblers.

Growth of Gambling Sponsors

The UK charity organization Gamble Aware believes the ties between teams and gaming outlets has “reached a tipping point.”

At the very least, gaming sponsorship levels in the EPL have reached an all-time high.

Nearly half of the teams in the league now have some sort of sponsorship pact in place with a gaming company; nine of 20 teams will bear a gaming patch on their jersey for the 2018 season.

West Ham: Betway

Wolves: W88

Newcastle United: Fun88

Huddersfield: OPE Sports

Fulham: Dafabet

Everton: SportPesa

Crystal Palace: ManBetX

Burnley: LaBa360

Bournemouth: Mansion88

Including both of the top-two divisions in English soccer, a total of 60 percent of the teams will be donning gaming logos.

EPL officials have declined to respond to Stevens’ comments this week.

Do Gambling Programs Help?

The NHS insists that with clubs benefiting to the tune of £47.3 million ($62 million) for shirt sponsorships, they should be doing more to fund gambling programs.

According to Stephens, two-thirds of problem gamblers will get worse without the aid of treatment.

However, most rehabilitation programs have low rates of success in general, and especially so when it comes to gamblers. One Canadian study revealed that 90 percent of those considered problem gamblers will eventually relapse after treatment, a rate that is slightly higher than other groups of addicts.

Eventual recovery is still possible, but it often takes several attempts.

Meanwhile, new methods of treatment are showing more promise. Research out of the University of Minnesota shows that 59 percent of gamblers who were given an opioid called Nalmafene showed significant signs of improvement, compared to 34 percent of participants who were given a placebo.