Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Swansea City FC Announces Gambling Partnership With The Big Step

Swansea Football Gambling Partnership

Swansea City has announced a partnership with The Big Step as part of a move to crackdown on gambling-related harm.

The football club announced the “trailblazing new” partnership this week with The Big Step, a football-based project part of the Gambling With lives Charity which, as reported by CasinoBeats, works with people with experience of gambling harm to deliver a programme which educates, informs, and raises awareness of gambling harm.

Swansea City will reportedly aid the charity in its programme to raise awareness of the risks associated with sports betting and compulsive behaviour. Nick Phillips, a Swansea City football supporter who’s battled with gambling addiction himself, will lead the programme.

Speaking about the partnership, Phillips said: “I would like to thank the club, and the supporters trust in giving us the opportunity to talk about gambling and, in particular, the harms that are attached with it. As a lifelong fan of the club, I am excited about this education project and believe it will have a significant positive impact amongst the fans and the local community.”

James Grimes, the Senior Programme Manager at Gambling With Lives, a recovering addict, and the founder of The Big Step, told SBC News: “I am so proud to announce our partnership with Swansea City, whose community scheme is renowned for improving lives. I am passionate about preventing young people [from] going through the same thing that I did.

“During 12 years of addiction, football failed to provide adequate warnings or the help that I so desperately needed. This partnership will show how football can be a positive social vehicle in preventing and reducing gambling harms in its community through our education, awareness, and signposting work.”

Andrew Godden, the Chair of Swansea City Supporters’ Trust, added: “We have been touched by the experiences shared by Nick and James, and we strongly believe that their plans to educate and improve awareness of the potential harmful impacts of gambling, particularly to young people, are much needed and long overdue. The Trust is delighted that the Swans have agreed to work with Nick and James, and we look forward to working with all parties to help deliver this wonderful initiative.”

The partnership has also been backed by Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris who added: “I am delighted that the Swans, my local football club, are taking the issue of gambling-related harm seriously and is forming this important partnership with The Big Step. This programme will play a critical role in ensuring that young people are made aware of the real risks of gambling and gambling addiction.”

Swansea City’s partnership with The Big Step isn’t the first time the football team has made a move to promote safer and more responsible gambling. Back in August, the team announced it was removing all logos of shirt sponsor YoBet from the front of its jerseys in favour of Swansea University as part of a move to not promote gambling operators.

The English Football League Backs Gambling Sponsorships

The above news comes after the English Football League (EFL) released a statement on Sunday reiterating its close relationship with the gambling industry after a Sunday Times report claimed that gambling sponsorships are going to be banned under the Government’s ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

In its statement obtained by Gambling Insider, the English Football League revealed it would be continuing its discussions with its stakeholders and the Government regarding its relationship with the gambling industry, but stressed that the organisation works to ensure that its partnerships are “activated in a responsible fashion”.

Backing its relationship with the gambling industry and betting sponsorships, the EFL said: “The association between football and the gambling sector is long-standing, with a collaborative, evidence-based approach to preventing gambling harms of much greater benefit than that of a blanket ban of any kind.

“Through a highly visible awareness and education campaign, the EFL and Sky Bet work together to promote responsible gambling, with players from all three divisions wearing sleeve badges to encourage supporters to consider how they gamble and 70% of the sponsor’s matchday inventory dedicated to safer gambling messaging.”

The EFL also stated that, despite political scrutiny, the gambling industry contributes an estimated £40 million per season to EFL clubs which the organisation describes as critical funding, particularly for clubs currently “living on a financial knife-edge given the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Finally, the football organisation confirmed that it would contribute to any call for evidence from the UK Government and acknowledged that all gambling sponsorships are under constant review and surveillance.

Back in July, we reported that gambling football shirt sponsorships could be banned under the newly revised Gambling Act after MP Carolyn Harris, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm spoke out against the partnerships and said banning them was one of the “most obvious” things to do under the new Gambling Act.

At the time of writing, nine of the 20 Premier League football clubs are supported by gambling companies and, although said sponsorships are currently aiding clubs facing financial issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris wants clubs to “wean” themselves off sponsorships and called on the Government to provide more support.

Harris, who believes that these shirt sponsorships normalise gambling for children, said back in July: “I think the Government needs to do more to support football clubs in terms of finances. I’ve got no problem with sponsorships, but it needs to be something that is far more family-friendly instead of things that can cause addiction. It’s the messaging that’s really important. It’s a family environment, and therefore the sponsorship needs to come from a family organisation.”

Meanwhile, numerous gambling organisations and campaigners have called for an end or more restrictions to gambling sponsorships in football. Clubs themselves, like Swansea City, have steadily been pulling logos from their jerseys as part of a move to promote safer gambling and prevent exposure to minors.