Betting industry fears football advertising backlash

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There are growing fears within the UK bookmaking industry of a backlash against betting advertising, which has been the subject of fierce political and media criticism in recent months.

Bookmaker promotions are particularly prevalent in English football, with nine of the Premier League’s teams currently involved in shirt sponsorship deals with betting companies, while the prevalence of bookmaker advertisements during live football games has caused widespread concern.

The volume of betting adverts has been the source of much criticism, and many political figures, including the opposition Labour party, have advocated a ban on betting advertising during live games. This so-called ‘whistle-to-whistle’ approach has already been introduced in Australia, and in Italy, the government has recently banned all gambling advertising in sport; a ban that includes sponsorship or promotional deals of any kind between sporting bodies and bookmakers.

Gathering storm

There have already been signs that the UK industry is starting to consider self-imposed restrictions on advertising. Last week, the UK Gambling Commission warned of what it described as a “gathering storm” of legislation and regulation, and the Chief Executive of GVC, the company that owns Ladbrokes and Coral also urged other gambling companies to take action.

Under the Italian regulations, which don’t come into effect until January 1st, football clubs with existing betting sponsorship deals will be able to honour their contracts, but with more than half of the teams in the top-flight Serie A division involved in deals with betting companies, it has been estimated that the loss of revenue to Italian football could be as high as €120 million.

In England, the current value of betting company shirt sponsorship is around £51.1 million, and many clubs, particularly those with lower profiles, would find it difficult to replace that income.

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