It would appear that the proposed voluntary ban on front of shirt gambling sponsors, proposed before the start of this season, may be dead in the water – at least for now. Premiership bosses have dragged their feet on making a formal pledge, no doubt contemplating the potential lost revenue, while a government white paper on gambling reforms has once more been delayed.
The result is that three teams have inked fresh front of shirt sponsorship deals with gambling providers, in time for the start of the season. Everton, Bournemouth and Fulham all have new agreements, bringing the total number of gambling sponsors to eight out of the twenty top-flight teams. Other gambling operators provide kit logos, sleeve sponsorships, and stadium advertisements.
There has been anger from campaigners over the failure to curtail gambling-related advertising in the Premier League. Charities such as Gambling With Lives. have been pushing for a total ban for years, and the lack of action has left many dismayed and frustrated. The voluntary ban, which would require the agreement of at least fourteen clubs, has been described as imminent, but has not come in time to prevent the signing of new multi-year deals.
Under the proposals, front of shirt gambling sponsorship would be phased out over three years, with existing deals allowed to run until the end of the 2024-25 season at the most. It was hoped that by electing to impose this ban of their own volition, the Premier League could avoid a more comprehensive legislative embargo on gambling advertisers.
This would mean that all other types of advertising space would still be open to gambling companies, and that the decision could be revisited and overturned in future years. This would result in a loss of an estimated five to ten million pounds per season – a lot less than what could be imposed through a government prohibition.
However, political turmoil surrounding the resignation of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson meant that the decision could be postponed. Gambling minister Chris Philp was one of the cabinet members to resign in the effort to force Johnson to step down, and as a result the promised white paper on gambling reform was once more shelved. Despite being announced in 2019, and apparently being ready to present, the reform paper has yet to see the light of day.
The postponement of the white paper in turn prompted the Premier League to postpone their own vote on the voluntary front of shirt ban. Without the government reforms announced prior to the commencement of the 2022-23 season, there seems to be less urgency to act. It is under these uncertain circumstances that three more teams were able to go ahead and enter into sponsorship agreements with gambling companies.
Gambling advertising is a big component of the content of the postponed government review. Other parts of the white paper will address the rules for the top UK casinos like the ones listed on this authoritative page, including revising existing stake limits, and strengthening protections for users of the best UK online casinos. Such protections include making affordability and proof of funds checks more stringent. The best UK casinos already follow some of these guidelines, but the reforms would make these checks mandatory for all providers.
Everton’s shirt deal has been widely reported, after they terminated their existing sponsorship deal with Cazoo. The online car retailer has reported revenue losses of more than twice what they were in the same period of 2021, and the end of the deal will come as a blow. Everton will now feature the brand of Stake.com on the front of both the men’s and women’s shirts.
Stake.com is a crypto-gambling provider that also partners with the UFC. The deal is reportedly worth over ten million per year, and it has been signed to run for the next three seasons. It is not the first time that Everton have entered into a sponsorship agreement with a gambling provider, having previously partnered with betting provider SportPesa. This agreement was broken off in 2020, after the club bowed to pressure to sever ties with the gambling industry. However, after losses adding up to almost £373 million over three years, Everton’s bosses have had to reevaluate their priorities.
Fulham will now be sponsored by W88, a global betting and gambling provider that previously partnered with Crystal Palace. Bournemouth’s choice of sponsor is Dafabet, a gambling company that operates largely in Asia. The move may indicate the provider’s intention to develop their brand in the UK and Europe.
According to the UK’s Betting and Gaming Council, the Premier League receives £40 million every year from the regulated gambling and sports betting market. It’s not hard to see why clubs are reluctant to give up that source of funding, despite widespread claims that such partnerships are not popular with football supporters.
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