Plans for a gambling sponsor ban on football shirts have been unsettled this week as reports suggest the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) proposals could be watered down.
In December 2020, multiple UK media outlets began to report that shirt sponsorships could be outlawed by 2023 as a result of the DCMS’ 2005 Gambling Act review, as it was suggested there are more ‘responsible options’.
However, the proposal to stop gambling companies from sponsoring Premier League club shirts have been disregarded, according to The Times.
The government is instead expected to adopt bet limits between £2 and £5 on online slot machine and casino games, and affordability checks to ensure bettors do not take things too far.
A ban on betting shirt sponsorship was long considered one of the most likely outcomes of the review, having been endorsed by various gambling reform advocates and – according to some media reports last year – PM Boris Johnson and his cabinet.
In April, sporting figures were set to be banned from gambling and lottery adverts under new rules from The Committee for Advertising Practice, beginning in October 2022 – suggesting a clampdown on betting advertising in sports.
The governing body explained that any sports star that has a ‘strong appeal’ with young people, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, must not appear in gambling adverts in a bid to protect people from gambling harms.
These measures were part of a wide list of new regulations that aimed to reduce the appeal of the gambling industry to under 18-year-olds.
Reports of increased restrictions on betting’s relationship with professional football has prompted some lower league clubs – such as Bolton Wanderers and Forest Green Rovers – to turn their backs on such sponsorship arrangements, instead pledging to partner with treatment organisations.
However, reports last month suggested that the government would give Premier League teams a year to prepare for a ban on these partnerships, and some top-flight clubs such as Everton as well as League 1’s Sunderland have entered into new betting partnerships – with Stake.com and SpreadEx respectively.
On the other hand, earlier this week, Everton received backlash after signing its £10 million a year partnership with Stake.com. Prior to reports of a backtracking in the ban, government sources were describing the club’s decision as a ‘strategic error’.