Gambling companies have been side-stepping a ban on advertising to children by sponsoring football teams, Christian charity group CARE has warned.
In a statement, it said gambling advertising has effectively dodged a ruling to protect under-age children from seeing gambling adverts by sponsoring football clubs and putting their logos on team shirts.
Research carried out by CARE has revealed nine out of 20 Premier League teams, and 17 out of 24 teams in the Championship are sponsored by betting companies.
In total, across the top two leagues in the UK, 60 per cent of teams will have gambling companies as their sponsors.
A statement from CARE read, ‘While gambling companies are not allowed to target children with their advertisements, their logos are emblazoned across children’s footballing heroes chests without proper context.
‘The problem is made more acute because under current industry regulations, sport betting ads can be shown around broadcast sporting events before the 9.00pm watershed’.
According to Gambling Commission figures there are 430,000 adult problem gamblers in the UK with hundreds of thousands more at risk of the problem.
There are also estimated to be 370,000 11-16 year olds who gamble weekly, with 25,000 of them classed as problem gamblers.
Nola Leach, chief executive of CARE, called for the 9.00pm watershed to be extended to cover sport betting adverts, as well as calling for a wider public debate on football’s relationship with the gambling industry.
She commented, ‘Betting ads on sports shirts is highly irresponsible because it normalises gambling to a very young audience.
‘Shown completely without context, these shirts are on the backs of children’s favourite players and this creates the illusion that gambling is harmless, fun and without consequences. We know that is not the case’.