Gambling With Lives-affiliated (GWL) campaign group The Big Step launches Football Supporters Against Gambling Ads

Gambling With Lives-affiliated (GWL) campaign group The Big Step recently launched Football Supporters Against Gambling Ads (Football SAGA), which will galvanize support to put a stop to gambling advertising in the sport.

Football SAGA’s website has now given permission to supporters from clubs across the country to express their concerns against gambling advertising and marketing in the sport.

The site launched with the support of nine supporters’ groups, including the Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust, Plymouth’s Argyle Fans’ Trust, and Birmingham City’s Blues Trust.

The formation of Football is apparently triggered by a fan-led review into football, spearheaded by Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch which raised questions over gambling ads in football. That inquiry was launched post the failed European Super League project and laid emphasis on the governance structures of clubs. 

“The fan-led review report is looking to make football fairer and more sustainable, but gambling’s dominance over the sport is not fair or sustainable and mustn’t be ignored – we will do everything we can to make sure fans views are heard by government,” The Big Step founder James Grimes said to igamingbusiness.com

According to Grimes, there was “overwhelming public support” for a ban on gambling advertising and sponsorship in football. 

The Big Step had previously written to ITV during Euro 2020 this summer, urging the broadcaster to refrain from airing any gambling ads during England’s semi-final match with Denmark. Notably, ITV has seen a 47% reduction in gambling ads during the Euro 2020 group stage when contrasted with the 2018 World Cup. 

Mo Razzaq, club liaison officer at the Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust said to igamingbusiness.com that gambling adverts have saturated the game to a point that it has become normalized, leading young people to grow up thinking this is a harmless activity. 

According to him, compulsive gambling has an adverse impact on physical, mental, and financial health. We need to take action against the damage it is doing to our communities and society as a whole.” Gambling brands sponsoring football clubs have long been drawing the ire of reform campaigners, with groups such as the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group and Peers for Gambling Reform calling for a blanket ban.

Having heeded the voices of concern, the industry had already set the wheels into motion by enforcing a ban on gambling advertising around pre-watershed sports broadcasts and significantly cutting down minors’ exposure to industry promotions.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) had praised the positive effects of the whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertisements during televised sporting events in the UK, saying the measure has cut the number of ads seen by children by 97%.