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Safer Gambling Week Spotlight On Betting

November 24, 2020

- Grant Whittington

Running every year for the past 4 years from 19 – 25 November, Safer Gambling Week is an important annual catalyst for conversation around responsible gambling. It is a special opportunity in particular for the industry itself to engage and touch base over areas of success and also those problem areas demanding more attention and focus.

The global gambling industry has traditionally thrown the full weight of its support behind the initiative. The increasing realisation has been that of educated gamblers being long-term gamblers – with the opposite being true also. As such, the hope every year is that the week will be effective to the extent that the lasting effects may be seen for many months – even years – beyond the annual seven days of conversation and creating of awareness.

It’s A Shared Responsibility

According to figures released by the British Gaming Council, 30 million people living in Britain engage in one or another form of gambling and/or betting every year. It should be noted that gambling includes the sale of Lottery tickets.

Bookmakers especially, have become increasingly more involved in the drive for safer gambling practises in recent years. Industry giants like GVC Holdings and Flutter Entertainment have proved instrumental and highly visible in this regard.

The responsibility, however, is very much a shared one – with every individual, organisation, service provider, and benefiting sector expected to play their part. Too often have the bookmakers been made to bear the brunt of the responsibility load, when in actual fact, those benefiting from gambling sponsorships and social allocations in general, have every bit as big a role to play as those operating the actual bookmaking businesses.

FCs Enjoy Benefits – For “Free”

The actions and involvement of the football industry, for one, have been described as leaving much to be desired. Many – including Britain’s lawmakers and gaming regulator – have expressed the opinion that football clubs are quick to accept and benefit from gambling sponsorships but not as ready to carry some of the responsibility when gamblers do end up running into problems associated with gambling and sports betting addictions.

But the personal feelings of the members and management of clubs aside, English football clubs in particular, have not exactly been in a position of being able to turn gambling sponsorships down should they have so pleased. Since the majority of British sports clubs – and again, in particular football clubs – are very near 100% dependent on ticket sales for their survival, the global health crisis has only complicated even more an already complex dynamic.

The reality right now is that without the help of gambling sponsorships, most football clubs would completely wane away. Since there is currently no fan-attendance permitted at any of the U.K.’s big arenas and stadiums, clubs have been left at the complete mercy of the financial aid available to them via gambling sponsorships.

Clubs Must Step Up

But according to former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson, this should not have to be a situation of either, or. Clubs, says Robinson, should try and find a more equal balance in sharing the safer gambling responsibility load with sports betting providers.

What clubs and bookmakers should be working towards, explained Robinson, is a more peaceful and equal-burden existence, with every party playing a leading but equal role in the fight against unsafe gambling and addiction.

Government is in the meantime reassessing all gambling legislation – and it’s a review process that has much of its focus on the nature of the financial relationships between sports bodies and gambling and betting operators.

If sports clubs are to keep enjoying the benefits of gambling sponsorships, they will have to be willing to carry a whole lot more of the responsibility load going forward.

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