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Next government must tackle 'toxic' relationship between gambling and football

14 June 2024
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PRESS RELEASE | CARE has urged the next Government to address a “toxic” relationship between gambling and football as Euro 24 kicks off.

In a statement today, we argue that international competitions are a particularly dangerous time for fans experiencing problem gambling, who will face an onslaught of adverts.

We also point to polling of the UK public that demonstrates concern about the relationship between gambling and football, and support for government action on the issue.

Tim Cairns, Senior Policy Officer, comments:

“Amidst the excitement of the Euros this summer, we will again witness the toxic relationship between football and betting. Commercial breaks will be filled with the latest odds and celebrities urging us to part with our money, implying that ‘football is better if you bet’.

“The message screaming from television screens and advertising hoardings will be ‘gamble, gamble, gamble’. Whilst the majority of fans will be able to do so proportionately, a significant minority will not. They may be experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, addiction.

“For people struggling with problem gambling, major competitions are a dangerous time. Their summer could be defined not by the beautiful game, but by the amassing of debt, which wreaks a heavy toll on their mental health, physical health, and relationships.

“We know sports fans are disproportionately at risk of problem gambling, and a 2021 parliamentary report estimated that sixty percent of betting industry profits come from people considered to be ‘high risk’ gamblers. A major tournament like the Euros is big business.

“The next UK Government needs to address this unjust situation. Tougher regulation is required so that big betting is not able to dominate sports, preying on vulnerable fans. The health of fans must always come first. We’d urged every party to be attentive to this issue.”

Public opinion

A Savanta poll of UK adults commissioned by CARE found broad concern that football matches are over-saturated with gambling ads, support for advertising controls.

Close to two thirds of respondents who expressed an opinion (64%) said they think “too many” gambling adverts are shown during televised football games.

And almost 9 in 10 (87%) said gambling advertising in UK football “should be overseen by a regulator”. There are currently no limits on betting ads in football.

There was also strong support for curbs on the gambling industry, which has come under heavy fire in recent months for failing to protect vulnerable customers.

More than 8 in 10 respondents (85%) agreed that a portion of gambling companies’ profits should be used to help people facing addiction.

A large majority of respondents (9 in 10) (87%) also said they support the implementation of checks to prevent people in financial difficulties from placing bets.

And 6 in 10 respondents (66%) said that gambling companies should be prohibited from offering controversial “VIP promotions” to customers.

CARE said the study demonstrates public support for tougher regulation of gambling and has called for “meaningful reform”.


Notes for Editors

Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) provides social policy analysis from a Christian perspective.

The charity campaigns for enhanced regulation of gambling, and more support for those experiencing problem gambling.

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