Online gambling operator Kindred Group’s online casino brand 32Red plans to use its UK football sponsorships to promote responsible gambling, even as footie fans say they don’t want their clubs sponsored by betting operators.
On Tuesday, Kindred announced that the five 32Red-sponsored UK football clubs would feature responsible gambling messages on the front of their jerseys in each match in which two of the clubs square off against each other during the 2019-20 season.
Each of the five clubs will have a unique responsible gambling message: Stay In Control (Rangers), Never Chase Losses (Preston), Play Responsibly (Derby County), Keep Gambling Fun (Leeds United) and Set Deposit Limits (Middlesbrough). The first meeting between these clubs – Leeds v. Derby – takes place this Saturday (21).
Kindred’s new responsible gambling commitment had its start during a recent Rangers v. Celtic match at which Rangers’ jerseys featured the Stay In Control message, which Kindred claims was viewed by a live audience of over 670k.
Kindred’s UK GM Neil Banbury said gambling firms need to do more to promote responsible gambling and football clubs have “a unique reach and cut through with adult audiences, and as such are a great avenue for promoting healthier gambling behavior and advocating for control.”
Kindred cited recent English Football League research that claimed 71% of footie fans were okay with gambling firms having involvement in the sport. However, newer research by the industry-funded GambleAware charity and the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) casts a more pejorative view of gambling sponsorship.
The FSA/GambleAware survey found that only 13% of respondents are or would be happy if their club was to sign a gambling sponsor. Additionally, 84% of respondents took a dim view of gambling firms sponsoring individual players, with many citing 32Red’s recent deal with Derby County – which will see Wayne Rooney take to the pitch wearing the number 32 – as particularly objectionable.
FSA CEO Kevin Miles said football clubs have “a duty of care” to their fans and his group would be “pushing clubs, particularly those with prominent gambling sponsors to do better.” GambleAware CEO Marc Etches added that the survey confirmed that both clubs and gambling operators “could do more to encourage safe betting and make people, especially young people, aware of the risks.”
In that sense, 32Red’s new shirt initiative is a step in the right direction. But it also suggests a sense of atonement for its Rooney gambit, which was roundly savaged well beyond the usual UK media suspects. There’s clearly a consensus that gambling sponsorship of UK football has officially jumped the shark, and even efforts to underscore that sentiment have not gone unpunished.