The UK government is likely to support a ban on gambling companies sponsoring professional sports teams’ shirts. 

According to Telegraph, ‘sources close to Downing Street’ have revealed that the Conservative Party is ready to get moving with implementing new gambling laws. 

Banning shirt sponsorships has a significant amount of support within parliament, both from the ruling party and others. 

Since the beginning of last year, various groups in the UK have also called for a ban on such partnerships. 

The potential impact of a shirt sponsorship ban for UK sports

The Telegraph article reported that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will play a close role in making changes to the 2005 Gambling Act. 

In the Premier League and Championship alone, gambling sponsorships generate £110 million per year in revenue. 

Clubs in England are already reeling from the effects of playing behind closed doors for almost a year. In Autumn 2020, the EFL warned that many clubs are on a “financial knife-edge”. 

The EFL has also pointed to the important work that betting sponsors do for responsible gambling. In particular, it pointed to SkyBet – where a significant proportion of its matchday income was donated to safer gambling initiatives. 

Calls across the country for a ban on gambling sponsorships

Last year, the House of Lords proposed a ban on gambling sponsorships in football. For clubs in the lower leagues, there would be a three-year transition period so they could find alternative sources of income. 

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has also called for a ban on gambling sponsorships in sport. Carolyn Harris, who chairs the cross-party group, argued that the outlawing of these partnerships would be “common sense”. 

Gambling Act review underway 

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) commenced its long-awaited review of the Gambling Act towards the end of 2020. 

Either this summer or autumn, the DCMS will publish a whitepaper outlining its recommended changes to the legislation. 

One “informally-discussed” legislative change is the possible introduction of a sports rights levy. This would be paid by sportsbooks and was talked about because the government realised that banning sponsorships could cause financial concerns for some clubs. 

Efforts to introduce a sports rights levy in the UK have been thwarted in the past as they do not comply with EU laws. However, with the UK no longer part of the EU, lobbyists hope the door is now open to such legislation.