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Don't bet your shirt against tighter rules for bookmaker advertising

Newcastle United are one of nine Premier League clubs sponsored by a gambling operation
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After the engrossing spectacle of the World Cup and with the departure of some familiar faces from the domestic top flight you might struggle to name the 20 English Premier League teams and their managers who will start the 2018-19 season on August 10.

Test yourself on that as a warm-up and then try to name the main shirt sponsor of every team – you can play this game at home but this column would not encourage you to bet on the outcome.

If you don't want a big clue then try to complete that test before reading on.

Nine of the 20 clubs will sport the logo of gambling companies on their shirts, many with names that will be unfamiliar even to the most fervent British or Irish-based punter but which will of course gain worldwide recognition through their association with the globally broadcast Premier League.

Where sponsorship by alcohol manufacturers once led the way, now it is lucrative deals with the betting sector which add most to the coffers of Premier League teams, with Gulf airlines and insurance companies trailing some way behind in their contribution to a total pot of around £300 million.

It is hardly surprising. When you watch sport you drink and bet, while changing your house insurance at half-time is some way down the list of priorities. It is a match made in heaven, unless you are suffering from gambling problems and could do without the constant reminders to get involved.

Here are the nine firms you might be struggling to recall: M88, LaBa360, ManBetX, SportPesa, Dafabet, OPE Sports, Fun88, Betway and W88 and the clubs who will carry their brands are Bournemouth, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham, Huddersfield, Newcastle, West Ham and Wolves.

The firms are in a privileged position that is unlikely to last forever as governments look to the recent example of Italy in banning not only all sports sponsorship by gambling firms but all gambling advertising. Half of all Serie A teams carried the brands of gambling firms but that did not stop the government acting decisively this month. The ban comes into effect from January 1 next year but already steps have been taken, with Google this week removing gambling-related services, other than the state lotteries, from being indexed on its Italian search results.

In Britain, with the campaign to reduce the maximum FOBT stake freshly won, television gambling adverts rather than sports sponsorships, are likely to be the next target. Just as FOBTs fuelled the high street explosion in betting shop numbers that drew the attention of campaigners from across the political spectrum, so the same legislative relaxation of 2007 produced another 'in your face' change with the boom in gambling advertising during televised sports programmes.

It is an area that has not escaped the attention of the major British- and Irish-based firms with William Hill this month taking the proactive step of appointing Lyndsay Wright as their first director of sustainability.

Lyndsay Wright: appointed William Hill director of sustainability earlier this month

Her brief in trying to alter public perceptions of the gambling industry and of her firm includes assessing the role of advertising. "It's something that has raised a lot of questions, particularly around the World Cup," she said about taking up the role.

The firm plans to better identify punters at risk, support those who are suffering harm from gambling and set up an innovation fund to pilot new ideas to promote responsible gambling.

In the meantime, without the option of being able to block television adverts for gambling there are still plenty of tried and trusted methods in which punters can control their gambling.

The most obvious way is to self-limit so that your bookmaker will not allow you to bet above a stated amount within the period selected, or to self-exclude, either for a fixed period or permanently. All operators now offer tools to make this a straightforward process.

Another option is installing blocking software on your computer or phone to prevent you from accessing gaming websites. Ask a friend to set the password for you in case you are tempted to cancel the operation.

Changing from a debit card to an ordinary bank card that cannot be used to deposit online is another option.

And of course there is the all-important aspect of talking it over with someone. You may not think you have a problem but may want the reassurance of a conversation in which you can discuss your betting habits and motivations.

The numbers to call to talk to somebody about making the first steps towards taking control of your gambling are 0808 2020 133 if you are in Britain, 1800 936 725 in the Republic of Ireland and 08000 886 725 in Northern Ireland.


If you are concerned about your gambling and are worried you may have a problem, click here to find more advice on how you can receive help


 

Where sponsorship by alcohol manufacturers once led the way, now it is lucrative deals with the betting sector which add most to the coffers of teams
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