The narrative has changed; even more after the restart of footballing games following the global pandemic. It is more than watching your favourite team play as a fan of good football. Now, it is about how much you can make from the games to be played every match day.
Dominantly amongst a lot of young football fans, staking on the odds presented by the bookies every match day is just as normal as getting yourself some fries at halftime. It is even more effortless, thanks to the introduction and widespread usage of certain smartphone applications which allows football fans to bet without having to frequent the bookmaker's shops.
Betting is now a prominent member of English football, with its impacts making this industry a visible infusion in the UK football world. This season, an approximate percent ratio of 60% of football clubs in the country’s top two tiers parade the names of betting firms on their playing shirts. This percentage represents 9 of the 20 Premier League football teams and a whopping 17 of the 24 football clubs in the Championship.
When you watch any live football game via any means this season, you will notice a good amount of regulated gambling firms and bookies that aren't on GamStop paraded flamboyantly on club shirts. Similarly, you will see various promotional boards, and even certain stadiums are named after gambling companies.
What is troubling the most is the fact that this prominence and visibility exposes the young people majorly to these betting companies and their odd offers whenever these ads come on.
In the United Kingdom, gambling adverts have suddenly become a norm and truly, this is disturbing.
During the last World Cup in the summer of 2018, viewers in the United Kingdom were fed to the brim with virtually 90 minutes of gambling ads all through the competition. Bookies and online casino operators enjoyed one and a half times as much screen time as companies producing alcohol, and approximately four times that of fast food companies.
Tom Watson MP, the Labour’s deputy leader expressed his worries over this situation when he said: “One of the only downsides to this brilliant World Cup has been the bombardment of gambling advertising on TV and social media that thousands of children will have been exposed to.”
The Gambling Commission began compiling information concerning betting among children in school years 7 to 11 (extensively aged 11 to 16), in 2011. This research led them to the discovery in 2017 that 12% of 11 to 15-year-olds that partook in the survey confessed that they had betted in the previous week.
Even though these statistics point at a reduction since the 23% that was recorded in 2011, Gambling Watch UK’s Professor Jim Orford has explained that the number of football teams with betting firms as sponsors is still “worrying”.
“There is evidence gambling is becoming ever more normalized, particularly among young people, so, increasingly, betting is seen as part and parcel of following and supporting one’s favourite sport or team," the Professor asserted.
The Chief Executive of charity Gamble Aware, Marc Etches, has brought up the same worries. “We have a generation of fans who believe you have to bet on football to enjoy it and that is disturbing and concerning," he explained. "The time is now for a much-needed debate about how we do this. Watching football and having a bet is becoming normalized, but we’re not talking about it."
Recently, in 2017, the EFL declared openly a record five-year partnership deal with Sky Bet which will make this betting firm continue to be the league’s headline sponsor until 2023-24.
As the league announced the deal, they made it clear that the deal was "underpinned by an enhanced Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), designed to help its customers stay in control and gamble safely". The deal similarly contained a fresh movement directed at promoting the culture of responsible gambling, with the tagline, “When the fun stops, stop".
This deal is one of the different sponsorship deals these betting firms provide for the game of football in the UK. Asides from this, we mentioned previously in this text how a good number of football teams have sealed deals with gambling companies as their sponsors. Surely, these football clubs have found a source for financial backing since the decline of deals from other sources like alcohol companies, cigarette companies, and fast food outlets.
Are these adverts powerful enough to provoke people to put cash in their hands to place bets?
While there has been no established link between those that see betting ads and being given to problem gambling, it is still a major concern for most people. Tom Watson concludes that more should be done to examine this possibility and the likely problem that it might result in.
"With an estimated 25,000 children under 16 addicted to gambling, there is nowhere near enough work being done to study the effects of this advertising,” he explained.