A Lords report into gambling regulation has called for ‘urgent action’ to address harms caused by gambling, including a ban on sports sponsorship. 

The House of Lords Gambling Industry Committee’s report Gambling Harm – Time for Action has taken over a year to compile and the results do not make pretty reading for the industry, the regulator and the government.

On its launch, Committee Chair Lord Grade of Yarmouth said: “Urgent action by the Government is required. Lax regulation of the gambling industry must be replaced by a more robust and focussed regime which prioritises the welfare of gamblers ahead of industry profits.

“Addiction is a health problem which should be treated by the NHS and paid for by gambling industry profits. The Government must impose a mandatory levy on the industry. The more harmful a gambling product is, the higher the levy the operator should pay.”

The report makes an enormous 66 recommendations including:

  • Ban on sports teams kit sponsorship and venue advertising
  • Exemption for horseracing & greyhounds 
  • Exemption until 2023 for non-Premier League football and other sports
  • Independent research into links between advertising and gambling-related harm

The report said: “It seems that the removal of sponsorship would not unduly harm Premier
League clubs,557 but it would very probably have a serious effect on smaller clubs; some of those in the EFL might go out of business without this sponsorship if they cannot find alternatives.

“This would be highly regrettable, especially given the close link between some of these clubs and their local communities. The financial situation of some of them is currently
particularly fragile because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on sport.

“We therefore think they should be given time, perhaps three years, to adapt to the new situation. They would not be allowed in that time to enter into new sponsorship contracts with gambling companies, but any existing contracts could continue until they terminate, and clubs would have time to seek alternative sources of sponsorship.”

The committee also recommends a ban on ‘bet to view’ streaming contracts which were brought into the spotlight for the FA Cup in January.

The report states: “The consequence of this will be that the Football Association, any other body with the rights to show football matches, and any body with similar rights in relation to other sports, will no longer be able to sell those rights to licensed gambling operators. We hope that they will see the wisdom of not attempting to sell those rights to unlicensed operators.”

While the Lords recommendations are just that, recommendations, the fact that the government has committed to a review of the 2005 Gambling Act could mean that these recommendations have longer lasting repercussions than most.

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