Premier League won’t ban gambling sponsorships

Betting on football is becoming a growing concern across the globe, but Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters recently admitted that more regulation is needed to keep the gambling industry from having a bigger influence over the sport. Until then, there is little he can do to limit their involvement, which means that there will not be a ban on gambling businesses sponsoring teams.

In a statement provided by the new chief executive, Masters made it clear that he would resist any ban on clubs accepting sponsorship from these betting companies. He explained that he would cooperate with a government review of gambling legislation, but stated that he was “not sniffy or judgmental” about gambling.

Masters noted that “sport and gambling have a long association.” He further noted that while the league does not have a commercial gambling partner, 10 of the 20 clubs in the league have betting companies as their main shirt sponsor. “We’re certainly not sniffy about it; it’s up to our clubs whether they want to have their own gambling relationships.”

The discussion comes on the heels of the British government ministers committing themselves to reviewing the 2005 Gambling Act. This review is expected to tighten restrictions on betting organizations and their involvement with sports. In a recent story by The Times, they even reported that some lawmakers are considering a blanket ban as one possibility.

“The whole area does need, I think, probably, slightly firmer regulation, particularly around the most vulnerable. But I don’t necessarily think that the answer should be that clubs should no longer have betting partnerships,” Masters said.

While not willing to ban gambling organizations, he did state that bookmakers should consider a voluntary ban on shirt sponsorship as well as pitch side advertising.

This is an idea that Brigid Simmonds, chair of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), has been willing to embrace. In a recent appearance before the House of Lords’ Gambling Industry Committee, Simmonds said the BGC is “absolutely open” to the possibility of reducing advertising around football.

This last season, gambling shirt sponsorships earned Premier League teams a combined total of £69.6 million ($90.9 million). Even in the second-tier Championship league, 15 of the 24 teams have shirt sponsorship deals with betting companies. This makes the situation a lot more complicated to resolve than many may think.