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Volume 7 No. 149
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B'casters Warn Ban On Gambling Ads Could Devalue TV Deals

Broadcasters warned that the value of TV contracts will "fall dramatically" if proposals for a "whistle to whistle" ban on gambling adverts are introduced, according to Matt Hughes of the LONDON TIMES. The Industry Group for Responsible Gambling is due to meet next week to finalize plans agreed upon by the leading bookmakers to "stop adverts for betting companies being shown during live sports coverage, which would prevent them being shown" during halftime. The broadcasters "are lobbying against the proposals because income from gambling adverts is integral to their business models," while Sky Sports and BT Sport have their own sponsorship agreements with bookmakers for their Premier League coverage. In addition, the English Football League is sponsored by SkyBet. While the new domestic TV deals for the Premier League and the EFL due to start next season -- worth almost £5B ($6.4B) and £595M ($757M), respectively -- "will not be threatened, broadcasters are clear that a loss of gambling revenue will be reflected in future contracts" (LONDON TIMES, 12/7).

SKEPTICS REMAINIn London, Lawton & Lambert reported experts in the betting industry, as well as senior figures in broadcasting and football sponsorship, "remain unconvinced that the voluntary move, clearly made in response to government pressure, will have much impact." Premier League clubs "might actually profit from such a ban," according to one commercial director of an EPL club. With the exception of Brighton, all Premier League clubs "have a gambling partner." Some "have as many as five, and the money they earn from such partnerships forms a significant percentage of their revenue." The commercial director said, "But if your revenue is £200 million ($254.6M) a year, that's still a significant amount. And if there was a blanket ban on all gambling advertising like we've just seen in Italy, that could hurt even if it's only in the short term. However, clubs will look at today's developments and possibly see a chance to make more money. Because if bookmakers can no longer advertise on television, that potentially makes our advertising media at matches more valuable. Could clubs now charge more for the LED perimeter screens and other forms of gambling advertising at the game?" It is "unlikely to concern the gambling industry." One betting expert said, "Bookmakers spend five to six times more on digital advertising than they do on television advertising, so I suspect the net impact of this will be no change" (DAILY MAIL, 12/6).