This season, more than 50% of the Premier League teams will be sporting shirts sponsored by gambling brands. This has led to concerns surrounding the effect it is having on fans by encouraging them to gamble, especially young fans who may start to embrace a culture where betting is synonymous with the sport.
Of the football teams fans will be watching this year, 10 out of 20 of the 2019/2020 Premier League teams are wearing kit sponsored by gambling companies. This kit sponsorship represents almost £349 million in earnings, which is an increase of 10% since last year. Last season saw 9 teams sporting gambling sponsored gear, but this season, brands will contribute £69 million to the teams.
Although the reach of gambling sponsorship is increasing, the top teams in the league have opted away from these types of deals. Chevrolet sponsors teams such as Manchester United and Manchester City to the tune of £64 million, and Etihad Airways for £45 million respectively.
On the other side of the coin, the largest sportsbook sponsorship goes to West Ham United from Betway. The English Football Championship has also not been immune to the charms of gambling company-sponsored uniforms, with 17 of the 24 clubs backed by betting brands.
The advertising of gambling in sports has been always been a point of contention. Anti-gambling groups and many politicians have argued against the advertising, which has become so prevalent in sports today. They argue that young, underage and at-risk groups are excessively exposed, and wagering activities are not being promoted responsibly.
From TV adverts to field-side boards and now uniforms, gambling advertising is everywhere. However, not all sportsbook and betting brands are keen on this sort of advertising, with giants such as Ladbrokes speaking out against it. The company committed itself to end its UK football team sponsorship deals so that fans can enjoy their favourite sports without any connection to wagering. To this end, the company donated its Sunderland FC advertising space to a charity, Children with Cancer.
Recently, Paddy Power and Huddersfield Town advertised hoax images to the public, which showed the Paddy Power (now Flutter Entertainment) logo on the team’s kit, resulting in major public backlash.
Tom Watson of the Labour Party said that brands claim to act responsibly, yet there is no evidence supporting this. If the companies continue to act irresponsibly, regulations around advertising will need to be implemented. His party has committed to acting against these and other advertising deals and to clamp down hard, where neccessary.
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