Betting: Premier League and other sports bodies urged to cut pitchside ads

According to an influential group of Members of Parliament, the Premier League and other sports governing bodies “should commit to reducing the volume” of gambling advertisements displayed on pitchside hoardings in stadiums.

The Culture, Media, and Sport (CMS) Committee stated in a new report that a reduction was necessary “to shield minors from exposure” to the logos of betting companies.

Dame Caroline Dinenage, the chair of the parliamentary group, stated that “further action is warranted with regard to the seemingly incessant barrage of advertising branding during football and other sporting events.”

In agreements estimated to be worth £60 million annually, eight Premier League clubs featured gambling corporations on the front of their shirts during the 2022-23 season.

Premier League clubs achieved an unprecedented consensus in April 2023 to eliminate gambling sponsorships from the front of match jerseys by the conclusion of the 2025-26 season.

The cross-party committee applauds the initiative but cautions that it will “not substantially diminish the quantity of wagering advertisements that are visible throughout a game.” Clubs will still be permitted to display such advertisements on shirt sleeves and through LED perimeter advertising.

According to a recent study cited in the report, the proportion of front-of-shirt gambling branding visible during ten broadcast matches was a mere 7% of the total visible gambling advertising. Furthermore, it was disclosed that around 7,000 gambling-related communications were viewed across six matches on the inaugural weekend of the current season.

A new gambling sponsorship code of conduct for sports, according to the MPs, should include a provision requiring the reduction of advertisements in stadiums and the allocation of more space to safer gambling messaging. “It is extremely unfortunate that the dissemination of the code has been repeatedly delayed,” they further state. “The pertinent sporting organisations should be obligated by the government to publish it immediately without additional unnecessary delay.”

Additionally, they urge ministers to adopt a “more precautionary approach” in contrast to the one suggested in the wagering white paper, which was released earlier this year and failed to impose stringent advertising restrictions. “Although an outright prohibition on gambling advertising would be unsuitable, additional regulatory measures are still possible,” they assert. The committee further asserts that horse racing and greyhound racing, by virtue of their intimate and enduring associations with wagering, warrant “a distinct approach” stated Dinenage.

Under new regulations, footballers were among the celebrities prohibited from appearing in gambling advertisements aimed at children last year.

A representative for the Big Step advocacy organisation stated that gambling advertising in our national sport is out of control; each match contains thousands of advertisements for addictive products that infect the minds of children. Every advertisement conceals the fact that wagering in the United Kingdom inflicts catastrophic damage upon millions of families.

While applaudable in nature, the recommendations put forth by these Members of Parliament unfortunately neglect to address the parties involved. Should the adverse consequences of advertisements necessitate reduction, they ought to be entirely eradicated from each football stadium. 

The members of parliament assert that the gambling industry’s 2019 “whistle-to-whistle” ban on television betting advertisements during live sports has been “criticised as ineffective because match viewers are still exposed to numerous advertisements and logos displayed on perimeter boards and kit, whether inside the stadium or watching on TV.”