Clubs Under Fire for Plans to Set Up Betting Shops at Stadiums

Cooperation between sporting organizations and bookmakers is nothing new. But recently they’ve become the source of much debate. Anti-gambling activists are concerned with Premier League and Football League clubs for allowing betting shops to set up business inside stadiums and for using what they call “honey-trap” club branding.

When William Hill originally announced their plans to open “Home Shops” at stadiums, the first team to sign up was Sheffield Wednesday. Now, charities in the UK are worried that will encourage new participants in the younger generation.

Aston Villa has reportedly announced an “unrivaled in-stadium partnership” with the bookmaker. Eight other Premier League teams are expected to follow suit. As far as we can tell, William Hill has a similar arrangement with many teams, including Villa and Celtic. Whether or whether their stadium stores will have the same degree of club branding is, however, still up in the air.

There has been prior indication from clubs that they might be willing to voluntarily restrict shirt-based betting sponsorship in the face of legislative pressure. But is that enough?

What Now?

Two of the most vocal organizations, Gambling With Lives and the Big Step, argue that permitting new betting shops to display club branding is counterproductive.

According to a representative from Gambling With Lives, there are worries that this is a deceitful technique to entice football fans into gambling, and that it may be especially appealing to youngsters who may not realize that it is unaffiliated with their team.

“Sheffield Wednesday do fantastic local work and are a beacon of joy and hope for our community. But with that trust comes responsibility. This isn’t about stopping bookmakers, this is about ensuring our football clubs are not used to promote gambling to a younger audience.”

Sheffield MP Gill Furniss

Many of the concept’s detractors are adamant that it be evaluated in its entirety before being implemented more broadly.

Could the Gambling Reforms Help?

The problem will hopefully be alleviated in part by the forthcoming gaming legislation in the United Kingdom. Sheffield MP Gill Furniss echoed this call, saying that the government should take the opportunity presented by the publication of the gambling white paper to alter the current state of affairs in football’s connection with gambling.

To prevent injury, addiction, and even death among young football fans, it is imperative that the leagues and clubs put a stop to gambling sponsorship in the sport and take action to limit partnerships of this kind.