Investigation finds 95% of adverts during football are gambling-related

By Robert Simmons
An investigation by the BBC has revealed that 95% of television advertising breaks during live football matches in the UK featured at least one advertisement for a gambling firm.

The enquiry, conducted by researchers from the Victoria Derbyshire show found that one in five advertisements broadcast in 25 matches were for betting firms, with that ratio rising to one in three during some games.

Researchers looked at 25 games involving a number of British football teams this season, scrutinising the number of adverts in the immediate build up, half-time intervals and the post-match chat on the BT Sport, Sky Sports and ITV channels.

There were a total of 1,324 commercials and sponsorship related advertisements during these times, with 272 of these ads being for gambling companies.

37% of commercials shown in Sky Sports' coverage of Scotland’s 3-0 defeat by Slovakia were sports betting related, with eight different firms screening 19 advertisements. This number rose to 40% during Everton’s recent Europa league match with Apollon Limassol, shown on BT Sport on 28 September.

According to estimates by the BBC, betting firms spent £150m on TV adverts in 2016, with a single advert for Premiership football estimated to cost £35,000. Under existing agreements with the gambling industry, gambling advertisements can only be shown after the watershed of 9pm, except during the screening of live sporting events.

This latest development comes amidst a flurry of negative press for the gambling industry, with a recent Sunday Times investigation alleging that gambling companies are deliberately targeting children with child-friendly content featuring storybook characters.

In an interview with the BBC, Matt Zarb-Cousin, from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: "We are concerned about the effects of children and young people being exposed to gambling advertising due to the pre-watershed exemption for live sporting events. The government has an opportunity to address this in the forthcoming review."

The government’s long-awaited triennial review into the gambling industry is set to be published next month, with a slew of restrictions on the gambling industry rumoured to be among proposals to be adopted over the next few months.

However this review has been delayed by the general election and economic wrangling between the Department for Culture Media and Sport and the Treasury, over the effects that such restrictions will have on taxation revenues generated by the gambling industry.

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