32Red’s Neil Banbury: A ban on gambling sponsorships could be fatal for sporting club initiatives

A ban on betting sponsorships would have a ‘huge impact’ on sporting organisations and important initiatives established by football clubs, 32Red’s Neil Banbury has warned.

In an interview with Insider Sport ahead of the 2005 Gambling Act review, Banbury expressed his fears about how damaging prohibiting gambling companies from partnering with sports bodies and clubs could be.

The operator recently announced it was reinvesting into Derby County’s Team Talk programme – a men’s mental health initiative – and innovations such as this could lose essential funding if 32Red were forced to pull out of the club.

“A ban on an industry that supports the sport in such a strong way would clearly have a huge impact – both in terms of initiatives we support but also the broader football pyramid,” he reaffirmed.

“As the EFL have recently said, the significant contribution betting companies make to the ongoing financial sustainability of professional football at all levels is as important now as it has ever been due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we have said before, it would also not have the desired effect that those who support it wish for. It would remove the industry from the public’s eye at the very moment that responsible operators like Kindred are developing innovative and effective ways to communicate healthier gambling behaviour to adult audiences.”

Banbury, whose company has agreements in place with three EFL Championship clubs and Scottish Premiership giants Rangers, is well aware that the casino brand may be called upon during the inquiry, something which he is keen to cooperate with.

“We are looking forward to contributing to the Gambling Act Review and welcome the debates it will bring – whether on sponsorship, or any other topic. We know there will likely be a call for evidence, as well as an opportunity for consultation with a wide range of voices, and we are keen to ensure that is the case.”

“By bringing in voices from across the spectrum, ensuring it’s evidence-based and is focused on tackling the real issues that the industry has rather than headline grabbing, then hopefully we’ll move to a better position. Generally, the perception across the biggest operators in the UK is that we all want to be part of the solution.”

The review of the Gambling Act, which has regulated the industry for 15 years, is set to be published in 2021 with potential new changes.

Discussing how a ban on gambling sponsorships could restrict operators’ ability to promote responsible gambling messaging through their partnerships with teams, Banbury concluded: “A ban would put all of that work to waste and instead mean that safer gambling messaging through responsible activations is no longer possible, driving people to become less educated about the tools available to stay in control.”

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