The BBC is reporting that a draft paper of the UK government’s review of gambling laws has been completed, and that betting companies will be banned from sponsoring Premier League clubs – potentially as soon as the 2022/23 season.
That could mean that as many as nine top-flight teams, including West Ham, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace, will have to tear up their existing sponsorship deals. However, delays to the publication of the government’s white paper could mean that the ban is implemented for the 2022/23 campaign instead.
However, the BBC’s report suggests that the new rules won’t apply to other English Football League teams.
There are two likely reasons for that – fewer eyes are on the lower echelons of the EFL pyramid, which mitigates some of the potential harm of exposing youngsters to gambling ads, and those clubs in the second, third and fourth tiers of English football need to have such commercial options available in order for them to remain financially stable.
Gambling sponsorships have already been banned in other leading competitions around the continent, including in Spain’s La Liga and the Italian Serie A, so the new curbs would bring the Premier League in line with their contemporaries in Europe.
A representative from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) told the media firm that their white paper of gambling reforms – which could include affordability checks on punters – will be published ‘in the coming weeks’.
Other bombshells in the report, which have been revealed in The Times, suggest that stakes for some online casino games could be limited to between £2 and £5 – unless players prove they can afford to lose more.
There have been moves from within football to introduce a voluntary ban on similar shirt sponsorships in recent weeks, with EFL sides leading the way.
Back in April, 20 clubs from outside the Premier League – including Championship outfit Luton Town, third tier Bolton Wanderers and League Two champions Forest Green and – signed a letter calling for a complete ban on all forms of gambling sponsorships.
“As owners, directors, and executives responsible for our clubs, we have witnessed the harmful growth of gambling sponsorship and advertising in football, including the negative impact on our fans,” the open letter reveals.
“A ban on gambling logos on shirts would be a significant acceptance of the harm caused, but we would encourage you to include all gambling advertising in stadiums and competition sponsorship so every young fan can go to any football match – home and away – free of inducements to gamble.”
For lower league clubs, a wholesale ban on partnering with betting firms could have a seismic effect on their finances, with the Peers for Gambling Reform cross-party group suggesting such reforms could see some teams lose 2.5% of their annual income overnight.
And the Betting and Gaming Council’s (BGC) Michael Dugher pointed out the importance of the betting industry in financing UK sport.
“According to a report by EY commissioned by the BGC, the English Football League received £40 million, horseracing received £350 million, and snooker, darts and rugby league received more than £12.5 million.”