Gambling welfare groups are warning of the dangers of an upsurge in gambling on football when the Premier League and Championship seasons resume this week.
All 92 of the remaining Premier League games in the 2019-20 season are set to be broadcast live to an audience which is still largely in a lockdown situation. At the same time, betting companies are due to resume normal levels of advertising and marketing, particularly through betting apps. Television broadcasts will also show gambling advertising on hoardings and club shirts.
Research by the UK Gambling Commission into betting habits during the lockdown was published earlier this month. It found that betting remained a resilient trend despite the absence of most professional sports and the fact that many people have suffered a drop in income. The report also showed that 62% of what are described as ‘engaged gamblers’ – those who take part in three or more gambling activities during a four week spell – increased the amount of money or time that they spent on at least one form of gambling activity.
The UKGC research also showed that there was a major increase on the 2019 figure for those who had engaged in more than one type of gambling activity.
Speaking about the findings in an article in the UK Guardian newspaper, the co-founder of gambling charity Gambling with Lives, Charles Ritchie, said that the return of football to the UK could have significantly negative effects on the vulnerable:
“During lockdown people with gambling problems have increased the amount of time and money they spend gambling. We fear that the situation is going to get worse because alongside the welcome return of football and televised live games, we face the awful prospect of a massive boom in gambling advertising and marketing.”
But it has also been suggested that the coronavirus crisis could increase the commercial pressure on football clubs to sign up with gambling sponsors, as other potential sponsors struggle. Back in February, the Premier League committed to co-operating with the government’s review of the 2005 Gambling act, but resisted calls to ban gambling advertising on club shirts.
For their part, the Betting and Gaming Council, which represents gambling operators, said that the sector had introduced a number of measures to protect customers, including a ban on television advertising during live games, a ban on credit card gambling, new stricter rules on age and ID verification and extra funding into gambling problems.