The gambling industry in the UK is still going through a thorough review, with lawmakers calling for changes that will ensure better regulation of gambling in the UK and protect vulnerable individuals. Last week, however, it became clear that some of the most vigorous measures might be shelved, helping British bookmakers to avoid strict affordability checks.
In the meantime, a campaign against gambling sponsorships in football gained Forest Green Rovers’ support. Along with the charity program Big Step, the football club called for a ban on any sponsorships and advertising deals that promote gambling in football.
Affordability Checks Fold as Broader Gambling Act Review
As the review of the 2005 Gambling Act is ongoing, one of the strictest measures that were proposed required punters who bet over £100 in a month to go through vigorous affordability checks. This was easily one of the most stringent measures that would have drastically changed the gambling scene in the UK.
Many betting companies criticised the harsh affordability checks, warning that this might push many punters to unregulated and unlicensed bookmakers. As the Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) took charge of the review of the gambling laws, however, there were reports of affordability checks being eased or completely shelved.
After the crash of Football Index, the UK Gambling Commission was heavily criticised for the way it was regulating the platform. This is why the DCMS decided to take full control over the review of the Gambling Act and change the duties of the regulatory body.
It came as no surprise that many sportsbook operators were against the harsh affordability checks. Due to the lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic, British racing experienced losses of £250 million. If stringent measures are adopted, some estimates show that the sport can suffer even bigger losses of around £60 million.
While the revision of the Gambling Act is continuing, the Gambling Commission ensured that it will go on with the review of the 13,000 responses to the Commission’s consultation. The regulator also announced it will soon publish an update on the future measures it will take to help the regulation of the gambling industry and the review of gambling laws.
Football Clubs Against the Sponsorships with Gambling Companies
Another part of the ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act is the discussion about a potential ban of gambling sponsorships in football. Forest Green Rovers also joined the campaign aiming to end gambling advertisements in football, becoming the first professional football club to support the cause.
The so-called Big Step campaign is part of the Gambling with Lives charity that works towards the protection of vulnerable individuals affected by gambling-related harms. Forest Green Rovers has joined forces with Big Step to ban shirt sponsorships, social media advertisements, and any other offers used to promote gambling operators in football.
Dale Vince, the owner of Forest Green Rovers, expressed his displeasure with how football is overwhelmed by gambling advertisements and he no longer finds any entertainment value in watching a football match. Those supporting the Big Step campaign believe that gambling sponsorships are not protecting the integrity of the game and take advantage of football fans.
While some support the end of gambling sponsorships, however, there are also some opposing the ban. The English Football League (EFL) fears that putting an end to gambling sponsorships will be harmful to the sport, causing even bigger losses after those that incur during the pandemic. In one of his statements, the EFL chairman Rick Parry presented estimates about possible losses of £40 million if gambling sponsorships are put to an end.
Gambling sponsorships are very common across football clubs in the UK, with eight out of a total of 20 Premier League teams wearing shirts sponsored by gambling companies. Ten out of 24 Championship clubs are also involved in gambling sponsorships, wearing shirts with logos of betting operators.
In reality, shirts are just one example of gambling sponsorships in football as many teams are also using their social media accounts to promote betting companies. Viewers can also easily spot different gambling advertisements during matches across the football pitch. It is also worth mentioning that the EFL is sponsored by the major British gambling company Sky Bet.
The Big Step campaign aims to ban any gambling-related sponsorships in football, ensuring a safer way to enjoy the sport without being overwhelmed by gambling advertisements. The founder of the campaign James Grimes believes that the gambling laws in the UK are outdated and need to be revised to ensure a safer gambling environment.