Chief Reporter, Sky Sports News
What is Safer Gambling Week? Sky Sports News' Bryan Swanson answers some key questions
At a time when betting advertising is commonplace in professional sport, Safer Gambling Week is an industry-led campaign to encourage more conversations about the importance of safe betting while promoting limits on spending or time played
Last Updated: 19/11/20 7:13am
As Safer Gambling Week gets underway, Sky Sports News' chief reporter Bryan Swanson answers some key questions as the gambling industry promotes more conversations in sport.
What is Safer Gambling Week?
This year, it has been rebranded from 'Responsible Gambling Week' and runs from 19-25 November.
It is an industry-led campaign to encourage more conversations about the importance of safe betting. It promotes limits on spending or time played and safer gambling messages displayed on premise windows.
The whole of the UK and Irish gambling industry, including bookmakers, amusement arcades, bingo clubs, casinos and online, has come together to support the week, which includes the promotion of workshops and training sessions.
What's happening with gambling advertising in sport?
A government review is ongoing.
In July, the House of Lords published 'Gambling Harm - Time for Action', a 192-page report from the Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry, and made more than 50 recommendations "to address the misery that a gambling addiction can visit on individuals and their families and friends."
The committee recommended that gambling operators should no longer be allowed to advertise on the shirts of sports teams or any other part of their kit. They also proposed that no gambling advertising should take place in or near any sports grounds or sports venues, including sports programmes.
However, they said these restrictions should not apply to horseracing or greyhound racing.
What does this mean for football?
The committee recommended that advertising restrictions should not take effect for clubs below the Premier League before 2023.
The English Football League [EFL] relies heavily on gambling's investment in the game.
Rick Parry, EFL chairman, told a parliamentary inquiry in November: "It is an important source of revenue, somewhere north of £40m in terms of our sponsorship deal with Sky Bet.
Parry said it would be "potentially catastrophic" if a ban was to be imposed "overnight".
"If it were to come in quickly on the back of all the problems we are suffering at the moment, it would create major difficulties," he said. "If it were phased in over time, clubs would frankly have to find a way of adapting. We look forward to playing a part in the DCMS review, which we hope will be evidence-based, and we look forward to contributing evidence to that process."
What have the Premier League said?
Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive, says there "needs to be balance."
"All our clubs have betting partnerships but are not necessarily as reliant, in quantum terms, as EFL clubs", he told parliament. "I believe very strongly that they activate their partnership in a responsible way. I think you are seeing an element of self-regulation on behalf of the betting and gambling companies at the moment as well."
"If there needs to be a rebalancing, that is fine, but we do not think there should be a prohibition on sponsorship of football clubs or other sports clubs, for that matter."
What else did football leaders say?
The EFL agree with the Premier League on the need for the right 'balance'.
"We have the most liberalised gambling environment in the world," Parry told MPs. "I think that brings pluses; in that it is much better to have everybody betting in a regulated environment. There are protections for consumers in that. I guess the challenge with that, though, is that maybe the pendulum can swing too far in terms of advertising. Maybe there needs to be something of a reset.
"My view is that it is a case of balance in all things. People like to bet, they always have and, frankly, they always will. Prohibition does not work. We have seen that America, after many years, is legalising and licensing betting. That is by far the better approach, given that there is a prevalence. If there has to be regulation to rein in the excesses, so be it. We should have the mechanisms to do that."
Will gambling be banned?
Gambling, and advertising in particular, has its critics.
The House of Lords report noted that the industry spends around £1.5 billion a year on advertising and, it claims, 60 per cent of its profits come from the five per cent who are "already problem gamblers, or at risk of becoming so."
But the government points out that the gambling industry employs more than 106,000 people and, last year, it paid £3 billion to the Exchequer in tax.
The report acknowledged: "We do not overlook that for most people who gamble this is a source of enjoyment that can foster social cohesion. We have been careful, in formulating our recommendations, to make sure that they impact on the undoubted benefits of gambling only to the extent necessary to make gambling safer for all."
There has been a considerable level of investment in sport from the gambling industry and the purpose of Safer Gambling Week is to ensure gambling is safe and done in a responsible way.