Gambling sponsorships in sports is a rather hot subject that constantly divides the opinions of both leagues and pundits across Europe, especially the UK and its front-jersey advertising policy. Well, the latest conflicting actions between the English Premier League (EPL) and the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) further confirm that this is the case.
Last week, the English Premier League has reached an agreement to remove all gambling advertisements located on the front of the match day uniforms. In contrast to this, the Scottish Professional Football League went the opposite direction and said they are not planning to ban any gambling-related sponsorships on uniforms.
Despite the fact that there are currently 8 clubs (out of 20) in the English Premier League that have gambling sponsorships on their jerseys, and the fact that they net $66 million per year from these sponsorships, the anti-gambling advertisement ban on EPL shirts is set to take effect by the 2025-2026 season.
One of the main reasons for this decision by the EPL is the sensitive nature and potentially detrimental outcome of promoting gambling ads on uniforms, especially when it comes to vulnerable groups and children, fearing that this type of advertisement has already normalized the sports industry.
Speaking on the matter, the EPL has stated that prior to making the decision to ban gambling sponsorships from uniforms, they actually consulted with all of the clubs, as well as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, in the midst of a nationwide government review of all gambling legislation.
However, clubs from EPL can at least take joy in the fact that the ban doesn’t include gambling sponsorships on shirt sleeves and on-field dasher boards. This is definitely a positive, especially since one study showed that gambling ads on the field were played more than one hundred times during a match.
At the moment of writing, this ban only applies to the English Premier League, the top-tier football league in the UK, and we are yet to see whether the lower football tiers in England will follow in the EPL’s footsteps.
The Scottish Professional Football League, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. In fact, up north, things are quite the opposite of the situation in England, being that the official statement of the SPFL is that in Scotland, “individual sponsorships are a matter for each club”, and this also regards casinos operating in the UK.
More specifically, the SPFL says that the reason why they are not considering imposing a ban on sponsorships featured on the front of the jerseys is that the income from these partnerships “helps to support their business model” and even “enables investments” in various activities.
There are no plans for a league-wide proscription of such deals. For many SPFL clubs, sponsorship from gambling companies is a significant source of income that helps to support their business models and enables investment in many of the important community activities which clubs undertake.Scottish Professional Football League Official Statement
At the moment of writing, there are three SPFL clubs that currently have front-shirt gambling sponsorships. These include two of the biggest clubs in the SPFL, Glasgow Rangers (32Red), and Celtic (Dafabet), as well as Dundee United (QuinnCasino).
Similar to the opposing stand between the EPL and the SPFL when it comes to front-jersey gambling sponsorships in the UK, in Australia, there is an even bigger nationwide rift between the clubs, the regulators, and the league.
While the debate in the Land Down Under is still ongoing, the government of Australia has decided to “chime in”, and as a result, Labour MP Peta Murphy revealed to the Guardian that they are currently looking to develop a gambling legislation based on the actions and example of other countries.