Experts raise concerns about rising number of clubs sponsored by betting firms | inside World Soccer

Experts raise concerns about rising number of clubs sponsored by betting firms

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Gambling firms sponsor nine of 20 Premier League sides

Experts on gambling problem have voiced concern about the growing number of football clubs with betting firms and online casinos on their shirts.

Online gambling is becoming bigger and bigger business, as anyone who watches football on television knows.

With the sheer presence of the industry throughout the English top flight, it is sometimes staggering to remember that it took until the 2002/03 season for a betting firm to first appear on a shirt when Fulham linked up with Betfair.

Now, nearly 60 percent of the clubs in England's top two divisions will have gambling companies on their shirts this season - nine of 20 in the Premier League and a staggering 17 of 24 teams in the Championship.

With Sky Bet sponsoring the English Football League, it is the situation in the Championship, where the number of gambling sponsors has risen by four from last season, that most concerns charities which deal with the negative consequences of the UK's £14 billion gambling industry.

Speaking to Press Association Sport, Gambling Watch UK's Professor Jim Orford said:

This is worrying.

There is evidence that gambling is becoming ever more normalised, particularly among young people, so that increasingly betting is seen as part and parcel of following and supporting one's favourite sport or team.

Many people think gambling is now out of control in Britain which has the most liberal online gambling regulations of any European country.

Marc Etches, the chief executive of GambleAware, agrees with Orford.

I think we are at a tipping point in terms of the relationship between professional sports and gambling.

We have a generation of fans who believe you have to bet on football to enjoy it and that is disturbing and concerning. It is a very different place to the past when there was only the weekly pools and spot-the-ball.

The time is now for a much-needed debate about how we do this. Watching football and having a bet is becoming normalised but we're not talking about it.

According to the Gambling Commission's most recent statistics, there are 430,000 adult problem gamblers in the UK, with a further two million at risk of developing a problem.

In another alarming statistic, 370,000 children aged 11 to 16 gamble each week and 25,000 of those are classed as problem gamblers.

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