NHS England Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard has urged English soccer teams to rethink their promotion of gambling during games. Pritchard voiced concerns about the effect of such ads on young people and the general society.
The timing of these comments is interesting since gambling addiction is gaining attention as a medical condition. The severity of the issue is evident considering the fact that 1,389 patients sought help in 2022–23 due to problems associated with gaming. To combat this, the current total of addiction clinics will rise from eight to fifteen. However, in Pritchard’s opinion, more must be done, especially by UK professional football teams.
Fans and players alike are looking forward to the next Premier League season, which features elite teams like Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Manchester United. But football is taking efforts to address the problem of gambling sponsorship on matchday jerseys. The clubs have unanimously agreed to put a stop to this kind of advertising before the 2026–2027 campaign season. Kit sponsorship and pitch-side advertising will continue in other ways, however, so there is potential for improvement.
Given the prevalence of gambling advertising among young people, Pritchard urges clubs to look into less intrusive methods. There are serious dangers due to the present level of promotion and the availability of online betting around the clock through their phones.
Pritchard’s petition is one of wider efforts to address the issue of compulsive gambling in the United Kingdom. To prevent problem gamblers from continuing to gamble, all legal gambling sites in each jurisdiction must adhere to a self-exclusion program known as GAMSTOP. Self-exclusion is available at all GAMSTOP casinos, as well as at casinos licensed in other countries, although players must make the request independently at each venue they frequent.
A Bigger Issue
In a white paper released in April of 2023, the UK government recommended measures, such as a £2 cap on slot machine bets, to combat compulsive gambling. But activists say the publication doesn’t do enough to address the damage that advertising does.
The fact that the National Health Service (NHS) needs more resources to help those who have become addicted to gambling is indicative of the breadth of the problem. In addition to the current clinics in Leeds, London (including one that focuses on gaming), Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, and Telford, new ones have opened in Thurrock, Blackpool, Derby, Liverpool, Sheffield, Bristol, and Milton Keynes. With that, the NHS can treat up to 3,000 patients yearly once all 15 clinics are up and running.