More Betting Links Found on Junior Club Websites By Luke Haward, CDC Gaming Reports September 15, 2018 at 10:00 am UKGC Issues Warning, NHS Boss Issues Criticism It is with a sad heart – and a strange sense of déjà vu – that I must report that the UK Gambling Commission has felt it necessary, once again, to issue rules reminders to football clubs, after the release of a BBC report last week that fifteen clubs had been found to be hosting betting adverts, or the logos of betting firms, on junior sections of their websites.Following this, the Advertising Standards Agency has demanded immediate action, and the English Football League have issued apologies. The clubs in question were spread amongst the Premier League, Championship League, League One and the Scottish Premiership. It’s fairly shocking for this kind of illegality to still be taking place on junior fan webpages, considering that in the past year several clubs were found guilty of the same foul play. This is precisely the kind of lapse in customer protection which could ultimately see the relationship between betting sponsorship and football regulated to death. The UK Gambling Commission has also recently redrafted its regulations, now threatening to impose unlimited penalties against operators found to be in breach of advertising rules, in particular where those failings relate to advertising which appeals to children. A real facepalm of an own goal, then, for betting sponsorship in football. Meanwhile, Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of England’s National Health Service, has called the fact that the major international betting firms which sponsor Prem League teams have failed to meet voluntary targets for funding problem gambling “deeply concerning.” Numbers recently published by the UKGC showed that, of the nine betting corporations that sponsor Premier League clubs, only Bet365’s contribution of £868,000 met the required target amount. Stevens has called on football clubs to insist that their sponsors make these contributions in order to help treat gambling addiction and prevent problem gambling. On the face of it, this seems a more than reasonable request, since the amounts at issue are fractions of a percent of total revenues. It’s honestly astonishing that such firms wouldn’t simply preemptively choose to give out such sums in advance, if nothing else in order to avoid the devastatingly negative press coverage which inevitably results from subsequent high-ranking criticism such as this from Stevens, not to mention the looming risk of more restrictive regulation. Even after these months of scrutiny, the UK gambling sector needs a major attitude adjustment. With any luck, before long, new operators will emerge, ones that offer very different business models geared towards real corporate responsibility and which choose to sacrifice some short-term profits in favour of sustainable practice. If the current industry players can’t find that new gear, they’ll eventually be left in the dust. A nice parallel could be made with the oil firms and the minor budgets they’ve set up for greenwashing and PR without any attendant substantive change. Except, of course, that the gambling firms have fewer vested interests to protect with the corrosive business models that they seem wedded to, and seem even less interested than the oil conglomerates in whitewashing their activities.