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EPL teams could boot gambling sponsors from shirt-fronts

Declan Rice, West Ham United, pictured with Betway on his jersey

The British government appears to be on the verge of an agreement with the Premier League to remove gambling sponsors from the front of football jerseys. The plan was largely supported by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson before the conclusion of his tenure.

The UK’s gambling white paper is set to be released in the next few weeks. According to recent reports, rather than proposing a ban of gambling operators sponsoring clubs, the government is hoping for the Premier League to voluntarily approve the changes.

Top-flight football clubs have not yet voted on the proposal. While restrictive, the plan allows betting sites and online casinos to continue partnering with football teams via adverts in Premier League stadiums and logos on other parts of club shirts.

Christian Purslow, the CEO of Aston Villa, met with the club’s fan consultation group last month after signing an agreement with Asia-based betting company BK8. The club later stated that “the commercial reality is that to teams outside the top six, such sponsors offer clubs twice as much financially as non-gambling companies”.

Out of the 20 Premier League clubs, eight display betting companies on the front of their jerseys; however, that is not permitted on junior replica kits.

READ: BP’s guide to online gambling in the United Kingdom

According to the English Football League (EFL), its club members could lose as much as $40 million annually if an outright gambling sponsorship ban was passed. The league is currently sponsored by Sky Bet.

In a previous statement, the Premier League noted that a “self-regulatory approach would provide a practical and flexible alternative to legislation or outright prohibition”.

Parties campaigning for a broader gambling ban noted that betting sponsorships in the sport have normalized the industry. They also said that stricter regulations should be put in place for the protection of vulnerable groups like children.

Iain Duncan Smith, former Conservative leader and noted anti-gambling lobbyist, claimed that the UK had some of the most liberal gaming and wagering laws in the world. He asserted that the names of betting firms needed to be entirely taken off football shirts to “stop thousands of people wandering around as advertising”.

The Betting and Gambling Council previously claimed that out of the 22.5 million UK residents that place bets monthly, a significant portion make sure their activities are done “safely and responsibly”.

The board also revealed that, by international standards, the rate of problem gambling among the UK adult population was at 0.3%. This figure is considerably lower than the 0.4% recorded last year.

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