In the UK, football and gambling go hand in hand. You cannot watch a football game on TV without seeing five gamble ads appear, or even go to the arena to be surrounded by gambling logos. This season it has reached an all-time high. Within the two top leagues in the UK 60% have been sponsored by a gambling firm. In the Premier League, 9 out of the 20 teams and the in the Championship League a shocking 17 out of 24 teams are sponsored by a gambling company.
Who is sponsoring who?
Out of the 20 English premier league teams 9 of them are sponsored by betting agencies in the UK. But who is sponsoring who?
This is their fourth season sponsoring AFC Bournemouth. M88 is an online casino, owned by Mansion, whose logo can be seen on all the player’s shirt sleeves. Their sponsorship contract also includes a series of commercial projects and other marketing activities.
Burnley Football Club announced their sponsorship deal with LaBa360 in July 2018. Their logo can be found on the home and away shirts of the team as well as online/social media advertising and being featured around the Burnley ground, Turf Moor.
Crystal Palace: ManBetX
A sponsorship that started in 2017, ManBetX call themselves a ‘sports betting and entertainment platform’ based in Malta. They are trying to enter the UK gambling marketing, and a great way to do that is via sponsoring a popular football team.
This five-year partnership is the longest in Everton history and brings the Kenya based company to the UK.
Dafabet is an online bookmaker who signed a two-year shirt sponsorship deal with the Xest London club, Fulman. This is for the home and away kits for both the men’s and women’s teams. On top of this, their logo will also be displayed around the stadium and digital channels.
Another shirt sponsor for Huddersfield is the online gambling site, OPE. They host roughly 30,000 live betting events every month, including football from all over the world. Their new sponsorship is set up to show their logo on the front of the home and away shirts and around the stadium.
Newcastle United: Fun88
Newcastle’s sponsorship deal with Fun88 is the biggest in the club’s history and puts them in the top 10 in the Premier League in terms of the size of the deal. It knocked their last contract with Wonga off the table which was £24 million over five years.
West Ham: Betway
Betway increased their sponsor money to £10 million from £6 million to expand their contract until 2020. They have been the main sponsors of the West Ham club since 2015 and believe that this is the perfect place for them to be seen.
Last year the Wolves announced a two-year sponsorship deal with W88, the online casino and live betting site. Their logo can be seen on the Wolves training wear as well as their home kit. The Wolves Junior team are not apart of this sponsorship deal, deciding to use the University of Wolverhampton as their sponsors instead.
These are just the sponsorship deals made between gambling organisations and teams in the Premier League in the UK, but there are many more in the Championship League and others.
Affect on the population
The UK is in a mental health epidemic, putting a strain on the NHS (National Health Service) like never before. One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem every year, and the leading cause of death for men under the age of 50 is suicide.
Of course, this isn’t down to gambling adverts on TV however this kind of advertising is undoubtedly having an impact on the viewers and fans. Gambling is a serious issue, which this kind of sponsorship isn’t taking into account.
There are said to be 430,000 adult problem gamblers in the UK, with a further two million at risk of developing a problem. But it’s not just adults that watch the football and have access to the internet…
In the UK, 370,000 children aged 11-16 gamble each week and 25,000 of those are classed as problem gamblers.
”“We have a generation of fans who believe you have to bet on football to enjoy it and that is disturbing and concerning. The time is now for a much-needed debate about how we do this. Watching football and having a bet is becoming normalised but we’re not talking about it.”Marc EtchesChief Executive of GambleAware
What are they going to do about it
Later this week, the sixth annual Betting on Football conference is taking place at the Chelsea FC Stamford Bridge stadium. The topic of gambling sites sponsoring teams will be covered in a panel session titled “sponsorship and advertising – how much is too much?”. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for some positive change discussed.
As well as this, the English Football League (EFL) has launched a responsible gambling campaign where players in all of the different football leagues wearing a new sleeve badge to raise awareness to the effects of gambling. The league is also updating its guidance to clubs on “responsible practices” and supporting a Sky Bet initiative to visit each club to provide players with training on “the potential risks associated with gambling”.
The UK has the most lenient gambling laws in Europe, meaning it has the best sponsorship opportunities for gambling sites. But is this a good thing? Let’s see what happens at this year’s annual Betting on Football conference.