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Arsenal must ask itself: should it take cash from gambling industry?

30 November, 2018

Arsenal should ask themselves whether taking sponsorship money from the gambling industry is appropriate

• PATRICK Edlin suggested that Labour should call for curbs on gambling advertising, (Should we ban all gambling advertising? November 23). But it was, of course, a Labour government that passed the 2005 Gambling Act, which opened the door to TV advertising for sports betting and online casinos and poker.

Since that act was passed, the gambling industry’s spending on advertising has surged to £1.5billion, about eight per cent of the entire UK advertising market. In addition, the industry’s marketing men have deliberately targeted professional football.

Arsenal FC does not have a betting company as its main sponsor, but, if you go to its website, you will find among its “regional sponsors” Betfair and 12Bet.

The profits from the UK gambling industry almost defy belief. In 2016-17, it made nearly £14billion. The profits at Bet365 were such that it could pay one of its co-chief executives a record-breaking £265million, nearly 10,000 times the average UK wage.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, there are some 400,000 people in the UK with a serious gambling problem, enough for one in every 60 households, with a million and half more deemed at risk. Concerns are now being raised about the effect on children, with more teenagers turning to gambling than to drink or drugs.

The big money lies with the online market, but we should not forget that betting shops tend to concentrate in areas of social deprivation, so Islington has its fair share of such premises – 55 or so. This is where the very addictive fixed-odds betting terminals are located.

We call on the Labour Party leadership to rethink the damage it has already done with respect to gambling advertising; Islington Council to continue to use its planning powers aggressively to protect young people and other at-risk groups; and Arsenal and other football clubs to ask themselves whether taking sponsorship money from the gambling industry is appropriate, given the influence it has over young people.

PAUL ELLIOTT
Islington Green Party

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