Gambling adverts 'in 95% of TV matches'

By Jim Reed
Reporter, Victoria Derbyshire programme

Image source, Reuters

Some 95% of TV advertising breaks during live UK football matches feature at least one gambling advert, the Victoria Derbyshire show has found.

One in five of the commercials broadcast across 25 matches were for betting firms, rising to more than one in three in some games.

The government is considering whether new restrictions are needed, with a report expected as early as this week.

The industry says the adverts have "limited impact" on gambling rates.

Under an agreement with the industry commercials can only be shown after the 21:00 watershed except in sporting events.

The research looked at 25 games involving British teams broadcast this season, from the build-up through to the post-match chat on BT Sport, Sky Sports and ITV.


In these matches there was a total of 1,324 commercials and sponsorship indents, and of these, 272 were for gambling.

For some games the rate of gambling adverts was even higher - in Everton's match against Apollon Limassol on 28 September on BT Sport, 40% of the adverts and sponsorship indents were for betting, with 18 adverts for five firms.

In Sky Sports' coverage of Scotland's 3-0 defeat by Slovakia on 11 October, 37% of the commercials were betting-related, with 19 gambling adverts for eight different firms.

Media caption,
Matt says he has been gambling since he was a teenager.

Meanwhile, the one women's football match which was broadcast contained no adverts for gambling.

In 2007, the then Labour government relaxed the rules around gambling advertising, letting high street and online betting firms show TV commercials for the first time.

In 2016, betting firms spent £150m a year on TV adverts. A single advert for Premiership football is thought to cost about £35,000.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: "We are concerned about the effects of children and young people being exposed to gambling advertising due to the pre-watershed exemption for live sporting events. The government has an opportunity to address this in the forthcoming review."

'Gambling normalised'

Earlier this year, Australia banned all gambling adverts in live sport before the watershed, while Belgium has recently done the same.

Last month, the Local Government Association called for greater restrictions. It said it was concerned the volume of gambling advertising was undermining the government's aim for socially responsible growth in the sector.

It highlighted that the adverts in live matches were screened to millions of viewers including children, while half of Premier League and Championship football teams were sponsored by betting companies.

A recent study by Goldsmiths University found more than 250 separate gaming adverts on screen during the BBC's Match of the Day programme. These were mostly on shirts, hoardings and post-match interviews.

Greater restrictions on advertising are expected in a major review of the sector, which could be released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport this week or early next month.

The government said it "expects the gambling sector to protect players", but added "clearly more work is needed".

Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association, which represents the online gambling industry, said the evidence on the effect of the adverts was "far from conclusive".

"The reality is, gambling is normalised in this society and if you look at why, it was probably the introduction of the National Lottery, it changed the perception," he said.

Watch the Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel.

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