Ahead of the League One 2018-19 season, Sunderland signed a two-year shirt deal with Betdaq, but that was before the betting exchange’s parent company GVC called on the UK gambling industry to reduce its marketing exposure to local sports fans, including an end to such highly visible shirt deals.
Betdaq now says that it will ‘donate’ its Sunderland shirt space to the Children With Cancer charity for the upcoming 2019-20 season. Sunderland will debut the new-look kit this Sunday at Wembley Stadium during the club’s Championship playoff with Charlton Athletic.
GVC has been among the most vocal UK operators pushing for the industry to adopt a more robust approach to responsible gambling initiatives, including reducing its advertising during televised sports. However, critics have pointed out that the company enjoys widespread free publicity through the signage at its thousands of Ladbrokes and Coral betting shops and thus is relatively less reliant on a visible presence on the pitch than some of its rivals.
GVC previously announced that its Ladbrokes brand would continue to sponsor the Scottish Professional Football League but the advertising boards surrounding Scottish pitches would now be devoted to responsible gambling messaging.
In January, GVC announced the launch of its ‘Changing for the Bettor’ responsible gambling campaign, which aimed to establish GVC as the “most trusted and enjoyable betting operator in the world.” That move followed shortly after reports that Ladbrokes imposed gag orders on the victims of one of its VIP customers in order to reclaim the money he/she stole.
GVC has pledged to spend 1% of its annual revenue by 2022 to fund responsible gambling programs. This week, GVC announced that it was would provide funding for the Safer Online Gambling Group (SOGG), a new non-profit looking to raise awareness of the potential for gambling-related harm.
The UK Labour Party has repeatedly pledged to ban all gambling sponsorship of sports teams/events should the party ever return to power (a scenario that looks increasingly probable given the Tory party’s implosion following its botched handling of the Brexit aftermath).