We believe that football has an unhealthy relationship with gambling. It shows almost daily when a game is on. Most teams are sponsored by a betting firm. Leagues up and down the country are sponsored by betting firms or have an association with them and gambling is constantly in our faces throughout the game. In the football league 72 teams have a betting logo on their sleeves and every team in the premier league but 1 has a relationship with a gambling company. This and betting sponsorships or advertising around the ground make it impossible to get away from. 21% of European football teams have a gambling sponsor on the front of their football shirt.
Gambling is worth £78.5 million to the 5 big leagues in Europe which is not even 3% of the premier league wage bill annually so despite the clear health consequences of gambling advertising it has little financial benefit to top flight football. 7 Premier League clubs have links to gambling in the children's sections of their websites.
Gambling has hijacked the game and it has serious consequences on the people that watch and support it.
In Lewes District every local club has supported The Big Step which calls for football to drop its unhealthy relationship with gambling.
But it is not just our football clubs that have a unhealthy relationships with gambling companies. 28 MPs have received £225k in free gambling donations. Some of these MPs then warned Parliament that anti betting laws cant be driven by antigambling ideology.
We need to treat gambling addiction seriously much like we did with alcohol and cigarettes.
There is also a loophole now in the live football whistle to whistle ban which is not a law, but an agreement that TV companies and gambling companies have. This loophole was shown in the England European championship semi final with the game going to extra time. It meant that the advertising slots between full time and extra time were full of gambling adverts, a number offering free bets,. Around 30 million people would have seen these adverts.
Between 250 and 650 suicide related deaths every year are associated with gambling addiction. Gambling addiction is said to cost the England economy alone £1.27 billion pound a year. Scarily, 450,000 11-16 year olds gamble and at least 45,000 are addicted. Gambling is creating a health crisis. We have to treat it seriously. We do not want our children being fed this constant message of gambling. They are essentially being groomed to think gambling is normal.
Press reports indicate that the government is proposing a gambling bill which may call for an end to shirt sponsorship. This is only one small step. We need stronger action. Gambling costs lives and we need to deal with it seriously.
We call on the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to work with football clubs and authorities to secure:
- an end to all stadium gambling advertising
- an end to shirt and website sponsorship
- an end to tv advertising an hour before and an hour after any live game to be shown on tv including extra time and penalties
- an end to gambling league sponsorship throughout all levels of football
- an end to football clubs promoting gambling on social media.