Reports claim UK shirt sponsorships will be banned but gambling ads will continue

It has been reported that the UK government is considering banning betting companies from sponsoring football shirts as part of its review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The government is expected to publish its white paper on the Gambling Act review in late 2021 or early 2022.

Last month, it was also reported that Sports betting VIP schemes are expected to be targeted by government ministers.

Shirt sponsors to go

According to a Daily Mail report, as part of the Gambling Act review, a ban on front-of-shirt logos of gambling companies is going to be one of the proposals included on a white paper to be published this winter.

The report also states that a wider ban on betting advertising in sports, which includes pitchside hoardings and TV ads, is being considered but less likely to happen at this moment in time.

A source “close to the review” has been quoted as saying: “We are pretty sure there is going to be an end to front-of-shirt advertising. Everybody is expecting that. Reformers want more but a lot of politicians are worried about the lower leagues. The Government thinks front-of-shirt will catch the headlines and it will feel like it has made a bold statement.”

The Government is expected to publish its white paper at the end of 2021 or in early 2022. From there, a three-month consultation period will take place before the bill goes to parliament. This means there will be no impact on sports teams until 2023 at the earliest.

The Gambling Act review

In December, the UK’s Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced that the UK government would be carrying out its review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The government launched a call for evidence where it will look at the role of the Gambling Commission, online restrictions, and marketing to examine how the industry has changed over the last 15 years.

The government will also explore the protections available to online gamblers such as stake and deposit limits, promotional offers, and whether extra protections are needed for young adults.

Last week, Nadine Dorries was appointed as the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. In her new position, Dorries will lead the ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act, taking over from John Whittingdale, who was removed from his Minister for Media and Data within DCMS

Gambling sponsors in football

During the current football season, nine of the 20 English Premier League teams and six Championship teams have gambling companies featured as their front-of-shirt sponsors. These teams and their sponsors include: 

  • Brentford – Hollywoodbets
  • Burnley – Spreadex Sports
  • Crystal Palace – W88
  • Leeds – SBOTOP
  • Newcastle – Fun88
  • Southampton – Sportsbet.io
  • Watford – Stake.com
  • West Ham – Betway
  • Wolves – ManBetx
  • Birmingham – BoyleSports
  • Bristol City – MansionBet
  • Coventry City – BoyleSports
  • Derby County – 32Red
  • Middlesbrough -32Red
  • Stoke City – Bet365

These deals a worth estimated to be worth a combined £100m ($136m) a year

If the UK government does implement a ban on font-of-shirt gambling sponsors, it will mark the largest change to advertising in sport since promoting tobacco products was outlawed in 2003.

EFL Chairman Rick Parry commented: “The last thing we need at the moment is for restrictions on other valuable sources of income because they can’t be just switched overnight. If not betting, which market should we go to?”

James Grimes, the founder of the Big Step campaign, which is against the relationship between gambling and football, said: ‘A shirt sponsorship ban would be a welcome and significant acceptance of the harm caused by gambling advertising in football. But this single measure would be relatively redundant if adverts are still permitted pitchside, during match broadcasts and online.”