Welsh MP Calls For Ban On Bet Sponsorships

July 15, 2020

- Grant Whittington

The war on sponsorships continues. The appearance of sports betting branding on the fronts of team sports shirts is nothing less than a subtle normalisation of the gambling industry. So says Welsh Labour Party Member of Parliament, MP Carolyn Harris.

The MP’s comment on social media relates to a recent motion for a complete overhaul of the country’s laws and regulations governing gambling and sports betting.  If implemented as proposed, which would mean the removal of all front-of-shirt sports betting promotional content, sports betting sponsorships could be banned in the country from as early as beginning 2021.

And it’s a ban Harris considers a perfectly obvious thing to do.

Spain Pushing For Ban Too

On the international front, Spain’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs has proposed heavy restrictions on advertising agreements between sports teams and sports betting operators and gambling product owners. If the proposed amendments are indeed signed into force, such a ban would lead to the removal of all betting company logos and slogans from the jerseys of the country’s LaLiga clubs. What’s more, the complete disappearance of betting branding could be finalised by as early as next season.

The knock-on effect won’t be small either, as 9 out of the 20 Premier League clubs are currently sponsored by sports bookies. And on the Championships side of things, the situation is even more desperate, what with 17 out of the 24 sides heavily reliant on sports betting operator sponsorships and financial funding. This, all in return for the display of images and brand-content on the fronts of jerseys and attire.

Government Should Step Up

As for how clubs; local as well as international; are expected to get by without the support of money streaming in from the mentioned sponsorships, it is Harris’ contention that governments aren’t doing nearly enough to financially support the clubs in question. If governments were to play its part in the way it should be expected to (not to mention the extent), then gambling sponsorships would according to the MP not be necessary in the first place.

A House of Lords committee earlier this month suggested exactly the type and extent of ban Harris and others who share her views appear to be pushing so hard for. The House of Lords committee did however state that if passed, a ban to this effect will not be implemented below Premier League level before at least 2023.

Finances are currently under immense pressure due to the ongoing global health crisis, and betting and gambling sponsorships have become even more of a desperately needed lifeline than what those sponsorships were considered to be in the past.

Harris has in the meantime declared herself in support of sponsorships in general. The only issue she says she has with sponsorships is when those sponsorships and content run the risk of causing addictive and unhealthy behaviour. Sports, says Harris, is a family affair, and as such, the relevant sponsorships and material should be family friendly.

Harris Confident About Ban

Harris furthermore declared herself “fairly confident” that the law will indeed be amended as proposed by her and her supporters. She referred to the proposed amendments as “obvious” and said that betting sponsorships necessitated an immediate response by the relevant lawmakers.

The MP went on to say that what worried her most about betting sponsorships, and especially front-of-shirts betting sponsorships, was the connection between the loyalty towards the sport, and the loyalty cultivated towards the bookmaker or gambling operator.

Young people are especially susceptible toward growing up believing betting and gambling to be perfectly “normal”, said a clearly determined Harris.

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