The English Football League (EFL) has justified its approach to betting advertising and its relationship with the United Kingdom’s gambling industry amid political scrutiny.
The EFL published its statement following a Sunday Times report suggesting that gambling sponsorship is to banned in the league. The EFL highlighted its responsibilities in making sure that betting advertising and sponsorships across its leagues and tourneys are responsibly performed. The league also expressed that the association between football and the gambling sector is long-standing and that both sectors have taken an evidence-based approach on preventing gambling harms with much greater success compared to any blanket ban of any kind.
In its statement, the EFL pointed out its efforts in promoting safer gambling through its highly visible awareness and education campaign with one of its sponsors, Sky Bet. The league expressed that both it and Sky Bet are closely working together to promote responsible gambling. It also pointed out that all of its players from all three divisions are wearing sleeve badges to encourage football supports to practice safer gambling practices. The league further went on to say that seventy percent of the sponsor’s matchday inventory is dedicated to safer gambling messaging.
The EFL also highlighted the financial importance of the gambling sector. It explained that the gambling sector is paying £40 million a season to the league and its clubs and that this continual contribution is vital to the ongoing financial sustainability of professional football. It further explained that due to the current Covid-19 situation, the gambling sector’s contribution is as important now as it has ever been as many of its club members are living on a financial knife edge.
The EFL also expressed its disappointment on the government’s policies. It explained that its members, despite contributing almost £500m in annual taxes, has its main source of income, ticket sales, cut off indefinitely without a definite reopening schedule. The EFL also went on to highlight the government’s inconsistencies by highlighting the lack of a definite roadmap that will allow supporters to return to stadiums despite other businesses being able to open their business to customers. It further went on to highlight that despite the absence of support from the government, the EFL and its members are continuing to meet their financial obligations to its stakeholders.
Finally, the league shared its stance on the matter. It revealed that it will stand by the gambling sector as it seeks to protect this important and vital income stream for its members in a time of financial crisis. Under this stance, the league also highlighted that its approach towards gambling sponsorships is constantly under review and that the league will contribute to any call for evidence sought by the Government.
In line with the incoming gambling act review, earlier this year, the Social Market Foundation (SMF) has just released a proposed comprehensive new framework of regulation and oversight for the gambling ahead of the UK government’s anticipated review of the 2005 Gambling Act, specifically targets at today’s era of online gambling.