Gambling Advertising in Sport

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 19th March 2020.

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Photo of Carolyn Harris Carolyn Harris Shadow Minister (Equalities Office) (Women and Equalities) 5:00 pm, 19th March 2020

Before we proceed, I should say that we have had official apologies from Jim Shannon, who is unable to be with us but sends his best wishes.

Gambling advertising in sport has grown exponentially since the Gambling Act 2005, and gambling is now virtually synonymous with sport. With 1.8 million at-risk gamblers in the UK and approximately 500 suicides linked to gambling every year, this is something that should be of huge concern to every one of us.

Although all sport is affected by gambling, there are some frightening statistics on the relationship between gambling and football, the nation’s favourite game. Half of all premier league shirts are emblazoned with gambling-company logos, with 10 out of the 20 premier league clubs having signed deals worth a combined £69 million. Malta-based firm Betway is the biggest contributor, as a result of its £10 million deal with West Ham. Clubs stand to earn nearly £350 million from such deals in the coming season—that is an increase of more than 10% on the 2018-19 season.

Betting’s dominance is even more pronounced in the championship, where 17 out of the 24 club shirts display a betting logo, meaning that 27 of England’s top 44 clubs have secured highly profitable shirt-sponsorship deals with the gambling industry. It frightens me how much influence those logos will have on children, and on those who are already struggling with a gambling addiction.

I have spoken to problem gamblers who have freely told me that they watch football merely to seek out the names of new companies with which they can open gambling accounts. With high-profile names further promoting these deals, gambling will be even more normalised among young people. An example is Wayne Rooney, who has been wearing the No. 32 shirt at Derby County since January, as part of the club’s partnership with 32Red.

Although around 80% of gambling advertising budgets is now spent online, there is still a worryingly vast amount of opportunities during sports programmes on television for vulnerable people to be bombarded with gambling advertisements. In a recent study, Professor Jim Orford from the University of Birmingham noted that gambling logos are on screen for 70% of the time during “Match of the Day” programmes in the United Kingdom. Analysis of live sports on television found that gambling adverts are particularly prominent during football matches. During one game between Scottish teams Rangers and Celtic, gambling brands were visible on 920 occasions—that is equivalent to once every 10 seconds.