The U.K.’s top soccer leagues have taken opposing actions when it comes to gambling ads on the front of their players’ uniforms.
The English Premier League (EPL) agreed last week to remove gambling sponsorships from the front of clubs’ match day shirts. However, to the north, the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) has said they have “no plans” to ban such sponsorship on uniforms.
The EPL, which features 20 teams, announced the ban would take effect at the end of the 2025-2026 season. Currently, there are eight clubs that feature gambling entities on their shirts. It is estimated that the clubs pull in a collective $66 million annually.
Those campaigning for a ban said gambling sponsorship in football has normalized the industry and that tighter regulation is needed to protect children and other vulnerable groups.
The EPL said they consulted its clubs and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of the government’s ongoing review of current gambling legislation.
The ban does not include shirt sleeves or advertising on dasher boards around the field. One recent study suggested that advertisements in the stadium were seen hundreds of times during a televised match.
The ban applies to only the EPL and it is uncertain whether other leagues in England will follow the EPL’s lead.
The SPFL certainly didn’t. It said through a statement that “individual sponsorships are a matter for each club.”
“There are no plans for a league-wide proscription of such deals,” the statement added. “For many SPFL clubs, sponsorship from gambling companies is a significant source of income which helps to support their business models and enables investment in many of the important community activities which clubs undertake.”
There are three SPFL clubs currently that have front-of-shirt betting partners. Celtic with Dafabet, Rangers with 32Red and Unibet, and Dundee United with QuinnCasino.
Sportsbook operators in Australia have also chimed in on the debate about banning betting ads on jerseys, though it appears there are deep divisions on the issue. The opinions range from total ban to partial, to keeping the status quo.
Mitch Reid, the head of regulation and compliance at Palmerbet, which sponsors the Newcastle Knights jersey, told the Guardian the gambling industry was being unfairly criticized given it provides a significant source of revenue to sporting teams.
“I don’t believe that other industries who offer products that have the potential to cause harm, notably fast food and alcohol, receive the same level of condemnation when they have engaged in sponsorship of sporting teams and leagues,” Reid said. “It would be remiss if it was not noted the amount of revenue the commonwealth and state governments in Australia are raising from the gambling industry and its importance to the funding of government infrastructure, grants and other initiatives.”
One company, Entain, announced it would no longer sponsor the jerseys of professional sports teams in Australia.
The Australian government has gotten involved and is in the process of preparing a report on the bans on uniforms. Labour MP Peta Murphy told the Guardian that they are considering what other countries were doing about the issue and may follow suit.
“It is clear that the concerns that the Australian public has about the promotion of gambling are shared by sport fans across the world,” Murphy said.