Scandal: UK Junior Footballers’ shirts used to promote gamblingBy Luke Haward, CDC Gaming ReportsJanuary 12, 2018 at 11:01 amOnce again, gambling operators – and this time, some of the top football clubs, to boot – are the subject of quite a scandal in the national press this week. Led by an investigation by The Sunday Times, it emerges that several players in youth teams, some as young as fifteen, have featured advertisements for gambling sponsors on their shirts during play, as well as in prominently displayed promotional photographs on one club’s website.The club at the heart of the story was West Ham, and the gambling sponsor Betway, but the investigation uncovered a pattern of activity seen across multiple clubs and multiple operators, including Bet365. West Ham pulled the photos shortly after being contacted by the paper.Stoke City has removed similar images, and Swansea City removed its gambling sponsor from the junior section of its site. Newcastle were also implicated for using their under-18s team to promote a gambling site called Fun88. The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has issued a statement to the effect that it has noted violations of advertising rules by some clubs, calling them irresponsible.The Sunday Times was also responsible for a major investigation into gambling advertisements back in October 2017, where it uncovered hundreds of games offered online with child-friendly or child-appealing content, in violation of UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) regulations. The UKGC was quick to act on the findings, and numerous games were pulled from the Internet in consequence, along with advertisements featuring cartoon-like imagery or content designed to appeal to children. The newspaper has also indicated that using underage footballers to promote gambling violates Football Association (FA) rules as well.Even more worrisome is the allegation, published in the same report, which states that some clubs are promoting gambling websites to junior supporters, and even that one such site features cartoon casino games without accompanying age-verification measures. The specifics of this site are not stated, nor whether or not it offers real money gaming, but it is concerning nonetheless.There’s a good deal of money riding on all this, but the bad publicity is going to cost the clubs and the sponsors still more. Advertising of this type has got to be rolled back, and fast. But vested interests always speak loudly, and there’s £47 million worth of investment in Premier League sponsorship alone by gambling companies. Money doesn’t talk, it shouts.The greed behind these types of activities are reflective of the most odious side of the industry, and greed can stop scruples dead in their tracks. This start-them-young mentality has got to stop.