Millions of children are exposed to gambling advertising in live sports, MPs have heard, prompting calls for a mandatory levy on firms to help fund gambling addiction programmes.
Shadow sport minister Rosena Allin-Khan told the House of Commons: “Some gambling companies sponsor football clubs to the tune of hundreds of millions and, in return, they get branding on T-shirts and around grounds seen by thousands in stadiums and millions on TV, including millions of children.
“Yet we found out recently that some of these sponsors gave as little as £50 to GambleAware, the charity that conducts research and treatment of gambling addiction.
“Currently, just three per cent of gambling addicts get the treatment they need. So when the stakes are so high and contributions so low, how can the minister justify refusing a mandatory levy?”
Sport minister Mims Davies said every sport has a “responsibility” to all the people enjoying games, and all options “including a mandatory levy” are on the table.
She said more could be done around the “size of football shirts”, saying branding on child and young adult-sized shirts needs to be “appropriately looked at”.
Ms Davies added: “We want the industry to be responsible in all ways, and this includes funding support for people experiencing harm.”
SNP MP Ronnie Cowan (Inverclyde) said that, according to the Gambling Commission, the gross gambling yield for the UK is £14.4 billion, yet the amount donated through the levy for gambling-related harm is less than £10 million. Imposing a statutory levy of just one per cent would bring in £140 million.
Ms Davies said: “If this voluntary system cannot meet current or, more importantly, future needs, we will look at alternatives. Everything is on the table, including a mandatory levy.”
She urged people experiencing problems with gambling addiction to seek help.
Ms Davies said: “Of those that come into contact with GambleAware, 70 per cent of people come through life-changing experience and get on to better futures.
“I would advise anyone experiencing harm to contact them.”
Christian Action Research & Education called for a “serious public discussion” on the issue last year, revealing that at the beginning of the 2018/19 football season over half of the teams – 60 per cent – in English football’s top two leagues had betting company logos on their shirts.
Picture: West Ham United’s stars celebrate a goal – sponsored by Betway. (Steven Paston/EMPICS).