Gambling with Lives’ Big Step campaign has penned an open letter to the Premier League’s 20 clubs ahead of a vote on the future of betting shirt sponsorships.
The top-flight is due to make its decision in September, with the ballot initially scheduled for this month before being delayed due to the collapse of Boris Johnson’s government, which itself has led to a delay to the Gambling Act review.
In the absence of a government decision on the issue, the Big Step has called on the Premier League to take matters into its own hands, as the sponsorship presence of betting firms in English football has been a key target of reformists.
"You are not just corporate entities, you are influential and trusted hubs of your community. That is why you must take responsibility to safeguard all your fans – especially children – from something which takes hundreds of lives every year." https://t.co/Xyh648z8J9
— The Big Step (@the_bigstep) July 25, 2022
“Despite our preference for government action, we still believe that football can do the right thing regardless of what policy-makers do and when they do it,” the letter read.
“We will continue to campaign to parliament throughout this legislative process, but we are also urging you to end gambling sponsorship, it is the very least your clubs can do to prevent the devastation we experienced happening to anyone else.”
In the Big Step’s view, the government is ‘delaying the inevitable’ by holding off on the White Paper publication, and so Premier League clubs should accept a severing of ties with betting as seen in countries such as Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.
The organisation’s rationale for such a ban is the large young audience that ivews Premier League fixtures, as well as adults impacted by gambling related harm, pointing to a YouGov study showing that 2.9m people are ‘already addicted or at risk of being so’.
In addition, the campaign stated that it is not alone in stating that football should ‘not be hijacked to push online casinos’, with recent surveys suggesting 100,000 fans are opposed to such partnerships, as well as Everton and Fulham supporters reacting negatively to the clubs newly signed deals with operators.
“We are not anti-gambling and you won’t find one prohibitionist amongst us,” the letter continued. “We are not trying to stop your fans from having a bet on football, nor are we trying to completely end the relationship between gambling and football.
“Gambling should quite rightly be tolerated and available for adults as they wish, but it should not be promoted, especially in a globally adored league where young people make up a quarter of the audience.”