December 6 – British gambling companies have struck a ground-breaking deal which will see the end of their tv adverts during live matches.
According to the BBC, companies which are part of the Remote Gambling Association – including giants like Bet365, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power – have agreed to a ‘whistle-to-whistle’ ban following political pressure.
The ban includes games which start before the 9pm so-called watershed – the time after which programmes unsuitable for children can be broadcast – but end after that time.
Television ads promoting safe gambling have become a feature of Premier League games in recent months but there are suggestions it still contributes to the rise in the amount of problem gamblers.
The ban covers all sports except horse racing which relies on gambling. Reports suggest the restrictions could come into force this month or early in the new year.
The BBC says the ‘whistle-to-whistle’ move follows political pressure about the amount of betting advertising on television, with more than 90 minutes of adverts shown during the World Cup last summer.
The impact of the ban will be mostly felt in football given the financial value of the sport to both the gambling companies and broadcasters. Nearly 60% of clubs in England’s top two divisions have gambling companies as shirt sponsors.
Alex Kelham, partner at law firm Lewis Silkin, said: “In some respect sports may be rubbing their hands in that if betting companies are not spending their marketing budget on TV ads, they are likely to spend more on sponsorship and perimeter boards. However clubs get most of their money from broadcast rights, and this agreement may mean the value of broadcast deals go down, which will hit the clubs hard in the long run. Clubs are also likely to come under the same criticism as broadcasters have and may feel pressure to reduce the exposure they currently offer to betting companies. If the industry takes the next step and withdraws from shirt sponsorship, or the government or sporting authorities impose a ban on betting sponsors, sport will take a huge hit financially.
“We recently saw Italy introduce a blanket ban on betting advertising, which includes betting sponsorship, so a precedent has been set.
“The US sports market will be paying close attention to this development too. The liberalisation of sports betting in the US has been seen as a huge financial opportunity for the US Sports leagues and clubs, but there is still a strong sense of caution in some quarters which may see this latest news used to lobby against sports betting sponsorship and advertising, which would obviously massively reduce the value of the opportunity which has just been opened up.”
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