By Tim Poole
At a recent industry conference, analysts gathered to discuss gambling sponsorship in sport and whether gaming brands have gone too far in the UK market.
With a large number of English Premier League football shirts now sponsored by gambling companies – and more with partnerships in place in general – the sector has drawn considerable public scrutiny.
Inevitably, this has led to calls for sponsorship to be curtailed. But, if the practice is to be restricted in some shape or form, which stakeholder should be the one to decide how?
The UK Government, the Gambling Commission, football clubs themselves and the Premier League are the prime candidates. At the conference in question however, opinion favoured intervention at the league level.
Rory Anderson, Consultant, 12Bet: "The gambling industry in the UK: there are issues. But these issues are more around predatory CRM. To attack sponsorship – you can be seen to be doing something but are you actually attacking the problem? I don’t think so. But I think definitely restrictions need to be put in place. Just limiting it to one gaming sponsor per club; that’s where we need to be."
Dean Akinjobi, CEO, Football Media: "I agree it won’t be an outright ban; it will be restrictions to the way gambling companies are able to engage with fans. Brands need to be a bit smarter about how they do this."
Anderson: "I think one of the important issues here is who makes these restrictions? Is it the Government, is it the club? It’s quite a tricky one."
Russell Yershon, Founder, Connecting Brands: "I think restrictions need to be put in place. Clubs and brands need to work harder together and proactively broadcast positive things the gaming company is doing."
Robert Davidman, Partner, Fearless Agency: "Should the regulation come from a club level, from a league level, or from the Government?"
Anderson: "If you look at the EFL (English Football League), it’s sponsored by Sky Bet. So they work hand in hand with regards to safer gambling. I think it should be hand in hand with the Premier League and the clubs."
Davidman: "In the US, the NFL makes the rules and the clubs have no say. You also can’t sponsor a team unless you partner with the league first."