In a six-year deal, Bet365 are permitted to show matches on its website and mobile app. Fans can watch FA Cup matches by placing a bet or opening a Bet365 account before kick-off. The agreement with Bet365 is due to run until 2024, despite the FA announcing in 2017 a commitment to distance itself from the gambling industry.
In December 2019, RSPH published Skins in the Game, which highlighted concern among young people about the normalisation of gambling in football. The report revealed two in five (41%) 11-16 year olds are exposed to gambling sponsorship on TV or radio at least once a month and that 55% of young people feel the relationship between gambling and sports is negative.
The Bet365 deal demonstrates the need for a complete overhaul of regulation around sports and gambling, as called for in Skins in the Game. The report argued that a sponsorship ban for the gambling industry is vital, but must be part of a comprehensive package of regulation.
RSPH has called for:
- The introduction of legislation preventing gambling operators from acting as title sponsors for sports clubs.
- The imposition of contractual requirements preventing sports professionals from endorsing gambling-related activity.
- Sports governing authorities to review regulations in light of ‘second generation’ links between sport and gambling.
Calling for urgent action from the FA, Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH said:
“This is a rotten deal from start to finish, and it is extremely disappointing that the FA has been such a willing participant in the gamblification of football. Football has played an historic role in unifying our society, yet problem gambling and gambling disorder can tear families and communities apart, and has led to the loss of far too many lives already.
“Awareness-raising campaigns such as the 60-second delay to the FA Cup kick-offs last weekend are important and always welcome – but the twin crises of mental health and young people’s gambling we are facing today demand more than symbolism from the FA. If they are to be taken seriously on these issues, the FA must first get its own house in order.
“The reality is that lives are at risk now and waiting until 2024 is not good enough – urgent action is needed to prevent further harm and the FA must work to scrap this harmful deal without delay.”