The Premier League has proposed a compromise plan in a bid to avoid a total ban on gambling sponsorship.
UK.- The UK government was widely expected to introduce a ban on gambling sponsorship in football as part of its long-awaited overhaul of the 2005 Gambling Act. It was reported last month that the plan had been dropped, much to the dismay of anti-gambing campaigners.
It then emerged last week that the Premier League would offer to voluntarily refrain from future gambling sponsorship deals to avoid a ban. Now some of the smaller details on that proposal have emerged.
According to Sky News, the Premier League proposes to phase out front-of-shirt sponsorship only. Gambling operators would be able to continue to advertise on shirt sleeves and elsewhere.
It’s reported that the Premier League made the proposal to the government in a bid to avoid a complete ban. It argues that shirt-sleeves were less visible, and less valuable but that continuing to allow sleeve sponsorship would prevent a sudden disappearance of all revenue from gaming operators.
Sky News reports that no set timeframe has been proposed for front-of-shirt sponsorship to be removed, but it would probably be between three or five years given the length of existing deals. It’s believed that Chris Philp, the minister responsible for gambling is considering the proposal, which suggests the government’s gambling white paper is still not finalised despite months of delay.
Around half of the clubs in the Premier League have gaming sponsorship, including Fun88 at Newcastle United, SpreadEx Sport at West Ham, Hollywood Bet at Brentford and Sportsbet.io at Southampton. Last month, Everton FC announced a record new deal with Stake.com despite rumours of a pending ban.
Meanwhile, The Times and The Mail both claim to know much of the contents of the delayed white paper. They report that it will include the introduction of “maximum stakes of between £2 and £5 for online casinos, a ban on free bets and VIP packages for those who incur heavy losses, and ‘non-intrusive’ affordability checks.”
As recently as this week, the industry standard and lobbying group the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) attacked calls for a ban on free bets, citing new research that suggests it would push “almost a third of punters” to the black market and “suck millions out of horse racing”.
Other measures to be proposed are reported to include requirements for operators ‘to remove features from online games that increase the level of risk for customers’ – something already included in the BGC’s own code of conduct for game design. The newspapers report that the combined restrictions could cause gambling revenues to drop by more than £700m.