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Should Gambling Ads in Sports Be Banned?

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It’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid gambling ads, especially when watching sports. Many sports teams are sponsored by gambling companies, which means that players will wear their logo on their jerseys. 

The U.K. is currently undergoing a government review of the Gambling Act 2005, which removed all gambling advertising restrictions. This review may result in changes to gambling advertising, including potentially banning betting company logos on Premier League football jerseys.

Gambling Ads in Sports

Since the people who are most likely to bet on sports are the ones who are watching games, sports betting companies use sports games as a marketing opportunity.

In the U.S., many sports teams in the NFL, NHL, and MBA have partnerships or sponsorships with online gambling companies, including DraftKings and FanDuel. 

These companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing, which includes TV commercials featuring celebrities, advertising on billboards and podcasts, and team sponsorships.

Gambling advertising in American sports began increasing in popularity in 2018 when the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which up until that point had banned sports betting in all states except for Nevada.

This took away the federal government’s power to regulate sports betting, and it is now up to individual states to craft their own legislation surrounding sports betting. Since the PASPA ban was lifted, over $45 billion has been legally wagered in the U.S.

Gambling Sponsorships in Sports

Gambling advertising is very prevalent in English football. This season, eight Premier League teams have a gambling logo on the front of their jersey, deals that are worth a combined $79.22 million (£57.64 million). 

A total of 17 teams have partnerships with betting companies, meaning that these companies can advertise around the field, and on social media. Research has shown that gambling logos appear up to 700 times per game. 

A government review of the UK’s 2005 Gambling Act, which began in December 2020, is likely to suggest a ban on Premier League jerseys featuring betting company logos. There is some concern that without these sponsorships, the teams will suffer financially, but it could help reduce the risk of problem gambling.

The Influence of Gambling Ads 

Concerns have been raised that suggest that gambling ads encourage gambling uptake, especially among youth and young adult males. In 2019, 87% of adults and 69% of young people in the U.K. had seen or heard gambling advertisements and/or sponsorships. 

Just like all other types of advertising, gambling ads influence beliefs and emotions which may lead to the consumer taking action at some point in the future. 

“Advertising is a powerful force in our society,” says Christina Marriott, Chief Executive of Royal Society for Public Health. “It not only influences what we buy, but it also tells us what is normal, and what we should aspire to. We no longer allow airtime to other products which harm our health, like tobacco products: gambling should be no different.”

The amount of gambling ads normalizes gambling, and gives the impression that if you are watching sports, you should be placing bets. This can be especially harmful to children, who are exposed to gambling at a young age if they watch sports.

Gambling companies often don’t outline the risks involved in gambling, or how to gamble responsibly, so children perceive it to be a harmless game. 

Gambling ads may also be contributing to the increase in problem gambling related to sports betting in the general population, including professional athletes. According to the Sporting Chance clinic, which helps athletes with addiction, gambling has overtaken drugs and alcohol as the most common addiction among professionals seeking treatment.

These ads can also be triggering for compulsive gamblers, who have a hard time ignoring gambling ads, and may feel as though they are being directly targeted by gambling companies, encouraging them to gamble more.

If you feel passionately about the decision to ban gambling advertisements in U.K. football, you can sign this petition started by former footballer and recovering compulsive gambler, Peter Shilton.

Resources for Gambling Support

While it’s true that many people can enjoy gambling as a casual activity, there are others who are at risk for developing a gambling disorder.

Remember, gambling is designed to be addictive, and you are not weaker than others if you find yourself being unable to stop. 

Although there may not currently be a way to protect yourself from gambling ads in sports (other than discontinuing watching sports), there are resources to help you refrain from gambling in your daily life. 

GamBan App: Gamban is an app that blocks gambling websites from your devices, and offers other helpful resources within the app.

RecoverMe App: RecoverMe was created specifically for those struggling with a gambling addiction. It includes cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, mindfulness sessions, a support network, and strategies to better manage urges to gamble. 

Social media support groups: There are plenty of social media groups that you can join to find community and support. A couple of our favorites include these Facebook groups: Gamblers Anonymous Support Group and Gambling Recovery Now.

Podcasts: There are some great podcasts that speak candidly about struggling with and overcoming gambling disorders. Try listening to All Bets Are Off, The Broke Girl Society, and All In: The Addicted Gambler’s Podcast.

At Algamus, we have 30 years of experience treating all kinds of gambling disorders. No matter how far gone you may think you are, there is hope. We are dedicated to not only treating the gambling disorder, but also the very thing that is causing the gambling disorder, so that you can leave it behind for good. 

If you have concerns about yourself or a loved one’s gambling, reach out to our gambling counselors who will be happy to assist you.