Sky Bet extended its multi-million pound sponsorship deal with the English Football League until the summer of '24, according to the BBC. The gambling operation is the "headline sponsor" for the League Championship, League One and League Two football divisions. It "gets its logo on shirts" and rights for "Bet and Watch" for some matches. Sky Bet said that it will "try to discourage problem gambling through messaging on shirts, and that clubs will benefit through more money." The deal, which is worth "tens of millions of pounds," has been in place since '13. Sky Bet said that it would be paying 20% more than it has done so far to extend the agreement from '19-24 (BBC, 11/17). CAMPAIGN LIVE's Matthew Chapman reported news of the deal "comes as gambling advertising comes under increasing scrutiny" from the U.K. government. The Australian government has "gone as far as to ban TV gambling ads during matches." Recent research revealed around 95% of ad breaks during live U.K. football matches "feature at least one gambling advert" (CAMPAIGN LIVE, 11/17).
'RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING': CAMPAIGN LIVE's Omar Oakes reported Sky Bet is claiming a gambling industry first with an ad dedicated to promoting "responsible gambling." The spot, fronted by Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling, broke on Saturday "across the paid-for broadcasters' suite of sports channels." Stelling addressed the viewer directly in the 30-second ad saying that Sky Bet is putting the Senet Group's responsible gambling slogan, "When the fun stops, stop," at the top of the ad instead of at the end. Sky Bet is a member of the responsible betting campaign by the Senet Group, an independent body set up to promote responsible gambling standards. Sky Bet Marketing Dir Rob Painter said that the brand felt putting responsible gambling as the focus of an ad was "the right thing to do before anyone tells us to do it." The ad was shot six weeks ago and is "one of a half-dozen spots that will break in the coming weeks promoting different sports betting, such as football and horse racing" (CAMPAIGN LIVE, 11/16).
DRAWING CRITICISM: In London, Paul MacInnes reported the EFL's decision to "deepen its relationship" with Sky Bet drew criticism from campaigners, who claimed the deal is another step to "normalising" a practice that creates "widespread social harm." Gambling Watch UK Dir Jim Orford said, "There is increasing concern about problem gambling and the effect of gambling on young people. We also know how popular football is with young people, especially young men. Yet the relationship between football and gambling only continues to increase." The deal was also "met with disapproval" by GambleAware, the industry-funded body which promotes responsible gambling. The group has "encouraged the use of messaging to raise awareness" but its CEO, Marc Etches, was "critical of the measures proposed by the league." Etches said, "We are concerned about the effect further exposure to gambling will have on the younger generation. Today's news confirms that gambling advertising in sport has now reached a tipping point and we run the serious risk of normalizing an adult activity for young people" (GUARDIAN, 11/17).