GVC calls for gambling sector ban on shirt deals in UK football

Global sports-betting and gaming group GVC Holdings has called for a ban on gambling company shirt sponsorships and perimeter advertising in UK football.

In a company statement, the owner of the Ladbrokes and Coral betting brands said it will unilaterally end all its football shirt sponsorship deals with UK teams and ban perimeter board advertising at football grounds.

GVC called on its industry peers and UK football governing bodies to support the move, which would “allow sporting fans to watch their favourite teams without seeing any incentives to bet.”

Rival betting firm William Hill has backed GVC’s stance on the shirt sponsorship ban.

The move is part of a range of proposals put forward by GVC to cut problem gambling in the UK.

As well as the sponsorship ban, GVC set out the following proposals:

  • An end to all UK sports-betting broadcast advertising, at any time of the day, on live and repeated sporting events (except horse racing). This goes further than the forthcoming pre-watershed, whistle-to-whistle advertising ban which is set to be introduced at the start of the 2019-20 football season in August
  • Advertising specifically promoting responsible gambling and safer gambling campaigns would be permitted, but strictly limited to one advertisement per commercial break
  • Increased investment in RET (Research, Education and Treatment). GVC will commit one per cent of UK gross gambling revenue to RET by 2022
  • GVC is establishing a new independent trust to fund treatment of problem gambling
  • GVC will offer the GamBan software, free to any individual who is showing signs of problematic play.

According to the Financial Times, GVC spends about £45m ($58m/€52m) a year on UK sport advertising, almost a third of its total UK marketing spend.

Critics of the proposals claim that GVC wants to shore up its own market share without fighting the advertising arms race.

GVC-owned brand Betdaq is shirt sponsors of EFL League 1 clubs Sunderland and Charlton Athletic, but the group has no exposure on shirts in the Premier League and The Championship.

This season, nine of 20 Premier League clubs and 17 of 24 Championship clubs have gambling company shirt sponsors.

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