Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson, wants UK football to ‘play its part in tackling the country’s hidden epidemic of gambling addiction’.
A new Labour policy proposal, will seek to end football club shirt sponsorships by bookmakers and gambling related firms.
Watson has stated to The Guardian newspaper, that the Labour Party will pledge to curb ‘the power of gambling firms’, protecting society’s vulnerable and limiting the exposure of gambling services to UK minors.
The Labour Deputy makes his statement, as the industry awaits the government’s delayed October review of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) and advertising standards and practices.
Detailing Labour’s pledge, Watson points to the high density of betting firms’ currently sponsoring English Premier League football clubs (9 out of 20 sponsored by gambling services).
“Shirt sponsorship sends out a message that football clubs don’t take problem gambling among their own fans seriously enough. It puts gambling brands in front of fans of all ages, not just at matches but on broadcasts and highlights packages on both commercial television and the BBC.”
At present, Football Association rules prohibit youth teams from being sponsored by gambling firms. Furthermore, The FA does not allow for gambling services to be promoted on junior/minor football club kits.
Watson, however, believes that current policy is insufficient with regards to protecting minors, and has detailed that Labour will likely take a strict advertising approach relating to industry services, replicating marketing and promotional standards set for the Tobacco industry in 2005.
“Just as tobacco companies were banned from sponsoring sporting events and putting their logos on branded goods because of the harm smoking can cause,” he said, “it’s right that we recognise the harm problem gambling does and take gambling logos off football shirts.”
Labour’s pledge for stricter gambling standards, comes as the Industry’s leadership are reported to be reviewing betting marketing and promotional practices. This week, independent gambling group Sky Betting and Gaming announced the closure of its Affiliate Marketing program ‘Affiliate Hub’ citing ‘regulatory concerns’ attached to marketing and promotions by partner websites.