EFL stands by betting sponsorships ahead of Gambling Act review

The English Football League (EFL) has backed its approach to betting advertising and its relationship with the UK gambling sector amid heightened political scrutiny.

Publishing a statement on Sunday following a Sunday Times report suggesting that gambling sponsorship is going to be banned, the EFL underlined its duties in maintaining that betting advertising and sponsorships across its leagues and competitions had been undertaken in a responsible fashion.

The reform of gambling advertising and sponsorship laws will be placed at the forefront of government’s imminent review of the 2005 Gambling Act, in which DCMS faces mounting pressure to implement a blanket ban on football sponsorships mirroring actions taken in Italy and Spain.

“The association between football and the gambling sector is long-standing, with a collaborative, evidence-based approach to preventing gambling harms of much greater benefit than that of a blanket ban of any kind,” the EFL detailed in its statement.

The EFL would point to its transformative campaigns with principal sponsor Sky Bet, in which players and clubs across its three divisions promoted safer gambling awareness and public education of compulsive betting behaviours – with 70% of betting’s matchday inventory dedicated to responsible messaging.

Of vital importance, the betting sector contributes a reported £40 million per season to EFL clubs, marked as critical funding for ‘clubs living on a financial knife-edge given the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic’.

Meanwhile, the EFL states that it is frustrated and perplexed at government inconsistencies which have presented no roadmap as to when clubs will be allowed the safe return of supporters to their stadiums – ‘despite other sectors being able to welcome people through their doors’.

The EFL reminds the government that it is clubs contribute ‘almost £500 million annually to the Exchequer’, and are committed to meet their financial obligations despite their core income stream of ticket sales being turned off indefinitely and without the financial support granted other sectors.

“Our approach in respect of Gambling sponsorship is under constant review and the League will also contribute to any call for evidence by the Government as we seek to protect an important and vital income stream for our membership in a time of financial crisis,” the EFL concluded.

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