For an increasing number of fans, placing a bet on matchday is all part of the fun and has become something of a ritual, similar to indulging in a half-time pie or heading to the pub before kick-off. However, just what effect is this having on the game and are football clubs themselves part of the issue?
Nowadays, there is no need to visit your high street bookmaker in order to back your favourite team over the weekend, with a variety of betting apps having made markets as accessible as possible. Moreover, numerous review and comparison sites create all variations of ratings, ranging from best Android betting apps to top sites to bet on specific market – making it easy for punters to bet on any event from the comfort of their living room.
While gambling has always been prominent surrounding football, has the sheer amount of exposure to advertising become too much? Around 60% of clubs in the Premier League and Championship are now sponsored by gambling companies, meaning that those enjoying a game in the stadium itself or from the comfort of their own living room will be exposed to a large amount of adverts during the 90 minutes, whether it be on shirts or hoardings. As well as this, TV commercials both pre-match and at half-time are generally dominated by betting companies.
As a result, there is concern among many that supporters are being exposed to inappropriate advertisements on a regular basis, while there is also research which suggests that an increasing number of professional players are at risk of developing gambling issues. During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, television viewers will have taken in the equivalent of a 90-minute match worth of betting adverts during the competition, while bookmakers receiving significantly more airtime than alcohol and food companies. Taking such facts into account, coupled with the increasing number of betting shirt sponsorships in the Premier League, it is perhaps little wonder that the amount of wagers being placed is snowballing.
The number of children placing bets is also alarming, with the Gambling Commission having found that 12% of 11-15-year olds gambled at least once per week. This is the case despite the fact that advertisers are unable to target under-18’s when it comes to gambling, however this only means that they are not specifically focused on the younger market. The fact that 34% of young people aged between 15-24 said that they had been influenced by an advert when placing a bet shows just what an impact they can have, even if the relationship between the two has not been entirely proven.
What are Football Authorities Doing to Combat This Issue?
Now that we know the facts, let’s take a look at what those in charge are doing about this problem. The Football Association recently pulled out of a deal with Ladbrokes Coral following a review, leaving it up to individual leagues to govern themselves in this area. As a result, the Premier League doesn’t have a main gambling partner, with clubs free to enter into agreements as they choose. Those who do enter into any such agreement must not include their logo on youth shirts or shorts. However, the EFL announced a record five-year deal with SkyBet back in 2017, who will act as the leagues main sponsor up until the 2023/24 campaign. Players in the EFL now wear sleeve patches featuring the message “when the fun stops, stop”, the main strapline of the betting site in question. SkyBet have also developed a campaign surrounding responsible gambling, that is aimed at both fans and players.
The Bottom Line
Gambling companies certainly appear to have filled the void left by alcohol and cigarette manufacturers in the world of football, however such arrangements are required by clubs and leagues in order to have the finances required to attract players and interest from fans. However, recent actions from the FA suggest that they are aware of issues surrounding betting in their sport and are working on tackling the problem.