Kindred Group UK’s general manager Neil Banbury has added his thoughts on a blanket ban on football sponsorship while the industry awaits the release of the government’s white paper on the Gambling Act 2005 review.
In an open letter posted on Politics Home, the former Ernst & Young tax advisor proffered his thoughts on how the gambling industry and football can collaborate to promote responsible play rather than removing gambling sponsorship completely.
He railed against some of the criticism the industry has faced, saying: “Some of which is fair, some unfair and some simply untrue. We must not forget that sports betting is part of the cultural fabric of the UK and remains a legitimate and popular entertainment pastime.”
Banbury said that gambling sponsorship in football could “make a difference” in supporting both the clubs and the local communities attached to them.
He explained the development of RG programmes and the Team Talk scheme, which encourages men to come together to openly discuss mental health issues, had been successful initiatives borne out of gambling sponsorships.
He said: “At Kindred, we took the decision a few years ago to launch a new model of football club sponsorship – one that means investing in the local community, as well as the club. Calls for a blanket ban would clearly have a huge impact – both in terms of initiatives we support but also the broader football pyramid.”
Hanbury went on to argue a blanket ban would do little to support those at-risk from gambling-related harms and that “evidence-based solutions” were key to driving the rate of problem gambling down.
He continued: “A focus on blanket measures such as sponsorship or advertising bans is a clear signal of a lack of understanding in the measures needed to drive down rates of problem gambling. There is no evidence to suggest banning sponsorship or advertising would reduce problem gambling.”
Banbury called on policymakers to take a measured view of the situation and allow legal, responsible and licensed firms to continue to advertise across football.
He added: “It is vital that policymakers maintain the right of responsible, sustainable, licensed companies like ours to sponsor sport as we head towards the publication of the white paper in the coming months. We can continue to build strong sporting organisations and strong communities through a revitalised sponsorship model – and I’m proud that Kindred are the betting and gaming company leading the way.”
A monthly total of approximately 22,500,000 people place at least one wager per month in the UK and Banbury pointed to the 0.2% figure of problem gambling in the UK.
He said: “The rates of problem gambling in the UK are low, at 0.2% of the population. We take that small minority who do develop a problem very seriously – that’s why we launched our journey towards zero.”
Two weeks ago, Kindred announced that despite its desire to derive 0% of its revenue from problem gambling by 2023, 3.3% of its H1 income came from people considered to be at risk.
“However, we still have work to do to further decrease the number towards our ambition of 0% revenue generated from harmful gambling,” Banbury added.
Football Supporters Against Gambling Adverts has recently launched a campaign against the proliferation of gambling sponsorship within football.