Whether you’re a football fan or not, you will no doubt know that the Euros are currently taking place & it’s a big deal to those that do follow the sport. Whether you have just noticed the increase in England flags on display or you’ve been inconvenienced by your usual soap watching schedule in the evening being changed, you’ll know that the Euros is taking place and that means that advertisers are going to want a piece of this very popular pie.
Gambling Industry Changes
The UK gambling industry is entering a time of complete uncertainty. For years the government have admitted that there’s a growing issue of people becoming addicted to gambling, yet they’ve been incredibly slow in doing anything to combat this. Until 2005 when the UK Gambling Commission was founded, online casinos had absolutely no regulation and all this did was ensure that online casinos were reputable. It wasn’t until 2019 that the law changed to reduce the maximum value of single bets on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £200 to £2. In 2021 the UK launched another reform on gambling regulations – the first of which came into effect in April 2021 that banned players from making deposits with credit cards. Despite all of these changes, there’s one, in particular, that’s hampering football at the moment it raises a question around sports betting in general.
What Does This Mean For Advertisers?
Under Advertising Standards Agency guidelines, adverts promoting gambling have been banned before 9 pm (known as the watershed) for several years. However, this only applies to direct advertisements – i.e. the commercials that appear in the breaks between programmes. Since this restriction was introduced a huge loophole was left, in the form of sponsoring football teams or stadiums. Despite the ban on gambling being advertised before the watershed, bookmaker logos can be clearly seen on football players’ shirts and on the sides of pitches during games that are regularly broadcast in the middle of the afternoon.
Sports, but particularly football, are regularly watched by younger viewers and this means that children and young adults are being exposed to gambling at an early age, despite the watershed’s attempts to prevent this. This year has seen a huge amount of scrutiny placed on the Euros for the amount of gambling-related advertising, not just because of children seeing the advertising but because it’s damaging to former gambling addicts. The question is, will Wimbledon face the same amount of scrutiny?
What Does This Mean For Wimbledon?
In all honesty, it isn’t possible to give a straightforward answer to this; however, there are some mitigating factors to consider. One of the main issues that the UK government discussed was the issue of minors seeing the in-direct advertising of gambling. The average age of a tennis fan, according to a 2016 study, is 61. Without a large number of underage fans, the government is unlikely to consider Wimbledon as a pressing issue. However, if the UK government does decide to legislate against this issue it’s likely to be a blanket restriction across all sports, so it would indirectly affect Wimbledon.
The biggest area of scrutiny is likely to come from fans. Much of the most noticeable scrutiny is coming from the public. Groups of former gamblers and bereaved relatives have been campaigning to see an end to gambling being advertised in sports games. The question remains if the pressure will not stop just at major football tournaments, but campaigners will remain hopeful the momentum and impact made on the Euros advertising can still be made at other sporting events
The Future of Sports Betting Advertising
Advertisers for betting operators and slot sites will no doubt be keeping an eye on industry news for any announcements that affect them. There are of course rules around betting advertising and this includes casinos but it is often different to mainstream media rules.
One thing that will likely need to change is working with any online influencers, as the Advertising Standards Agency have started to be much stricter on what they allow and what they think needs to be marked as an advert. For example, previously a brand may have chosen to invite someone with a large Instagram following to watch a few games of Wimbledon with this. That is allowed and the influencer would have had to mark any posts to do with the event or the brand as “gifted”. However, this is no longer deemed acceptable and the influencer that attended Wimbledon as an invite from a brand would need to mark any posts surrounding this as an advert, to make it very clear to anyone viewing the content they were paid (even in-kind) to post on their social media.
Working with bloggers, influencers and celebrities is definitely one way that both the sporting industries and gambling industries have used in the past. There is nothing wrong with them doing this in the future, however; things will need to be clearer. Will that affect how influential these adverts are? Time remains to be seen. One thing for sure, those that don’t follow these advertising rules face being punished by the Advertising Standards Agency.
In the past huge sponsorship deals have come from credit card companies, car manufacturers, food and drink brands and high-end jewellery companies to name a few, but bookmakers have very much been noticeable by their absence. The reason for this isn’t entirely clear, but it’s probably in part due to the fact that football is the more popular sport. It’s watched by a huge range of people of all ages and backgrounds, and therefore it’s the place where gambling companies are likely to reach the broadest range of potential customers.
Whether or not the response to bookmakers advertising at the Euros will have a direct effect on Wimbledon this year is too hard to call, but it most likely will make sport event organisers think more carefully when deciding who to partner with, and in the long term the government may step in to legislate. In all honesty, only time will tell.