Gambling in sport: Government to review betting laws

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Sport’s relationship with gambling will be scrutinised after the government revealed the scope of its betting law review on Tuesday.

He now wants to “pull our legal framework into the digital age”.

“In terms of sport if there is evidence of harm coming from sponsorship and advertising, we will act,” he added.

“We will also take into account the extremely difficult financial situation that many sports and organisations find themselves in now, as well as broadcasters, as a result of Covid.

“We know the challenges the sporting sector have had and therefore we need to make sure any changes are proportionate.”

The wide-ranging review will examine how betting is promoted in football and sport, from shirt sponsorship through to television and online advertising.

Three-quarters of Premier League teams have betting sponsors or partners.

That figure rises to 87% in the Championship.

Campaigners and former Tottenham and QPR defender Steven Caulker, who has recovered from a gambling addiction, have told BBC Sport that betting has become normalised in football.

The gambling industry says it provides much-needed funds for the sport, while the Premier League and English Football League say their clubs comply with current regulations.

The government will gather evidence over the next 16 weeks before the review closes on 31 March 2021.

There are 340,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain, according to the industry’s regulator, the Gambling Commission.

“The industry has evolved at breakneck speed,” said culture secretary Oliver Dowden.

“This comprehensive review will ensure we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people. It will also help those who enjoy placing a bet to do so safely.”

The Big Step, a charity which is tackling football’s relationship with gambling, wants a ban on betting advertising in the sport, a stance which was echoed by a House of Lords report in July.

Big Step founder and former gambling addict James Grimes welcomed the review but warned “it must not be a whitewash”.

He added: “The review should be preventative and protect the millions of impressionable young football fans who are bombarded by betting advertising on shirts, around the pitch, through league sponsorship and during TV broadcasts.

“The government should not use this time to dither and delay, because the sad reality is that during the months of this review, thousands of kids will see thousands of gambling adverts while watching the sport they love.

“It’s heartbreaking to know that that some of these football-mad kids will become addicted to gambling, like all members of The Big Step team, including myself.

“The government are launching a call for evidence. Well, the evidence has been overwhelming for some time. But we do this because we are the evidence, too.”

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