A-listers and sports heroes profit from the misery of online gambling

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The government appears likely to allow Premier League teams that accepted gambling industry payments, estimated at £4-6million last season for short sponsorship, to continue to do so next time around. Nine of the 20 Premier League teams have done so. That number will actually increase to 10 as Everton have just swapped the £9.6m they received for shirt sponsorship last season from car dealer Cazoo in favor of “a club record fee”, which would amount to £12 million, to instead tie up with Stake.com, one of the gambling industry’s largest online casino and sportsbook operators.

Any voluntary program promoted by the government will struggle to make headway against the current course of football. And that’s a far cry from the same House of Lords committee’s recommendation that “no gambling advertising on or near sports grounds or venues” should be permitted. He pointed out that 60% of the gaming industry’s profits come from the 5% of gamers with harmful addictions.

For their part, most football clubs continue to oppose such bans for commercial reasons. Rick Parry, chairman of the English Football League, has predicted that of the 72 clubs he represents, several “would go bankrupt” if the £40million a year they collectively earn from gambling sponsorship were lost to new government regulations.

Yet some clubs, 20 so far, including Luton Town who nearly made it to the Premier League last season, have broken ranks and publicly signed up to The Big Step’s campaign to ban gambling adverts. money from their land.

Alongside the commercial arguments for football to continue to promote gambling, there are others of a more philosophical nature. They present any ban on shirt sponsorship as a ‘nanny state’ interference with the kind of individual freedoms that some Boris Johnson’s Tory backbenchers are keen to see the Prime Minister under fire defend. It is presented as an explanation for the rumored flashback when the report was released.

It has been confirmed, in fairness, that the official report will contain further measures. Maximum bets in online casinos will be set between £2 and £5. There will be a ban on free bets and VIP packages for those with heavy losses to incentivize them to get more involved.

“Non-intrusive” accessibility checks will be mandatory and the regulator, the Gambling Commission, will be granted more powers. A new ombudsman will hold betting companies to account for their social responsibility – although there is no mention of applying the same test to sports stars who profit from gambling advertising.

All of this has Ben Melvin shaking his head in disappointment. A lifelong Everton fan, he has started an online petition to change the club’s mind about approaching Stake.com. So far, more than 21,000 supporters have registered.

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