Christian charity calls for rethink on gambling adverts on football shirts

Fri 10 Aug 2018
By Cara Bentley

As the Premier League starts again, Christian charity CARE raise concern over the number of betting adverts seen by children.

CARE - Christian Action Research and Education - campaign with politicians on policies that often concern Christians.

CARE's CEO Nola Leach told Premier that by having gambling adverts on many football strips this season the betting agencies are ignoring the guidance that says it should not be made appealing to under 18s.

Derby will be sponsored by 32Red, Newcastle's away strip has 'Fun88' on and Crystal Palace's by ManBetX - all betting agencies. 

Leach said: "I think there's a real problem with gambling adverts on football shirts for a variety of reasons. It's the way that the book makers and the gambling industry are side-stepping advertising betting to children.

"We know there are 430,000 adult problem gamblers in the UK...but what is really disturbing is that it's estimated that there are 370,000 11-16 year olds who gamble on a weekly basis - 25,000 are classed as 'problem gamblers'.

"What we're doing with this is normalising gambling. Young people and children see their heroes...and the gambling adverts are on the back of their shirts...and make them think it's harmless and it's just something that people do."

Explaining why she doesn't agree with gambling Leach said: "For many, it's seen as just harmless fun - and it might be for one or two people - but actually the problem is it becomes addictive and certain people with addictive natures, but others as well, get drawn into 'Well, I'll just have another go'. 

"The levels of addiction are quite startling actually in this country and very often it's people who can't afford it and, more important I think, are the terrifying figures of 370,000 11-16 year olds regularly - on a weekly basis - gambling."

Bookmakers and the gambling industry are banned on making their advertising appealing to children, the problem being that children see adverts in many places, including on and around the football pitch.

Leach described how much of an influence this could have: "Just thinking of the next season, out of the matches that are due to be played between August and the end of November, it's reckoned that 37 games out of 59 there will be gambling advertised on shirts and this is really, really concerning."

One option is for the 9 o'clock watershed to be extended to cover all betting advertisements but Leach said there also needs to be a wider discussion about football's relationship with the gambling industry:

"We need a public debate about this - what are we actually doing? How dangerous is it? And what do we need to do to secure the safety of our children and young people?"

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