GambleAware’s boss warns of a “tipping point” for sport.
Experts on problem gambling have described the growing number of clubs with betting firms and online casinos on their shirts as “disturbing” and “worrying” and said a national debate on the potential harm is overdue.
Nearly 60 per cent of the clubs in England’s top two divisions will have gambling companies on their shirts this season – nine of 20 in the Premier League and a remarkable 17 of 24 in the Championship.
Only four of 48 clubs in Leagues One and Two will carry gambling advertising on their shirts, with four of 12 clubs in Scottish Premiership doing so, including Celtic and Rangers.
But with Sky Bet sponsoring the English Football League, it is the situation in the Championship, where the number of gambling sponsors has risen by four from last season, that most concerns charities which deal with the negative consequences of the UK’s £14billion gambling industry.
Speaking to Press Association Sport, Gambling Watch UK’s Professor Jim Orford said: “This is worrying.
“There is evidence that gambling is becoming ever more normalised, particularly among young people, so that increasingly betting is seen as part and parcel of following and supporting one’s favourite sport or team.”
According to the Gambling Commission’s most recent statistics, there are 430,000 adult problem gamblers in the UK, with a further two million at risk of developing a problem.