Gambling has had a long association with sport, dating back to Roman times, whilst Spot the Ball and football pools coupons were popular pastimes in the 1980s.
However, in 2021 we have the Betfred Super League in rugby league and the BetVictor Welsh Open in snooker, and gambling companies remain a favourite partner for Premier League football clubs.
Eight of the 20 top-flight clubs in season 2020/21 have gambling shirt sponsors, with financial services the next biggest category with four, followed by airlines and online car retailers, each with two.
Burnley (LoveBet), Crystal Palace (W88), Fulham (BetVictor), Leeds United (SBOTOP), Newcastle United (Fun88), Southampton (Sportsbet.io), West Ham United (Betway) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (ManBetX) make up the eight, with Aston Villa (LT) and West Brom (12Bet) having sleeve sponsors and clubs like Manchester City (Marathonbet) and Leicester City (PariMatch) having branded training kit.
Half of the 24 clubs in the SkyBet Championship have gambling groups as their main shirt sponsor and whilst the sponsors logos do not appear on the replica shirts kids wear, they do appear in the games young people play like FIFA 21.
The whistle-to-whistle ban was introduced in August 2019, where gambling companies agreed not to show adverts during all live sport broadcast on television before 9pm in the UK, except for horse racing, starting five minutes before kick-off and ending five minutes after the full-time whistle.
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) revealed that gambling advertisements seen by children on television has fallen as a result of this move, but the same report talks of how it is mindful of the “shifting media consumption habits” of children with them increasingly viewing matches via personal devices, such as tablets, and using platforms that include further advertising.
Gambling firms are still visible on matchdays, with companies prominent not just on advertising hoardings and in match programmes, but sponsoring stands and even stadiums.
In a 2019 study of three episodes of the BBC football highlights programme Match of the Day, researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London, found that gambling logos or branding appeared on screen for between 71% and 89% of the show’s running time.
Further research from Goldsmiths last year found that the BBC Match of the Day children’s football magazine featured a gambling firm logo on every other page (researchers spotted 52 logos in the May 2019 issue of the 68-page magazine) with logos also found on 42 per cent of Panini Official Premier League 2020 stickers.
75% of 8-16 year olds think betting is a normal part of sport (Source, Thomas et al, Apr 2019) making conversations essential if we are to prevent our children from experiencing harm.