All eyes focused on gambling’s A-factor

In his current monthly ‘Licensing Expert’ article for SBC News, entitled ‘All eyes focused on gambling’s A-factor’, that you can download below, David Clifton analyses recent Parliamentary debates in an attempt to establish which way the winds are blowing on the forthcoming Gambling Act Review White Paper proposals in relation to the vexed subjects of gambling advertising and sports sponsorship.

He goes on to remind readers that ‘A’ is for advertising too.


David’s article was written just before the weekend of 21/22 May 2022, as reports appeared from The Times (entitled ‘Curbs on internet gambling and logos for football shirts’) and the BBC (entitled ‘Gambling sponsor shirt ban included in draft government white paper’) suggesting that the White Paper will include a proposal that Premier League football clubs could face a ban on having gambling sponsors on their shirts unless agreement is reached with the clubs within the next fortnight to voluntarily remove such sponsorship. However, the suggestion was made that clubs in the Championship and below would be exempt from such a ban.

The BBC report quoted James Grimes of campaign group, The Big Step, as saying:

This is welcome, but to remove gambling from shirts while allowing pitch-side advertising, league sponsorship and club partnerships to continue would be massively incoherent. Every young fan should be able to watch their club – in the ground and on TV – without being bombarded by ads for gambling, which we know harms millions, and takes hundreds of lives every year. If the government recognises gambling can be harmful, as this step suggests, then it must end all gambling advertising and sponsorship in football at all levels, not just on shirts.

The Times report went further, suggesting that maximum stakes of £2 to £5 will be imposed for use of online slot machines, with people only being allowed to gamble more if they pass affordability checks to prove they are not making unsustainable losses.

Underlining that a week is a long time in politics, on 29 May The Times published a follow-up article entitled ‘Gambling company logos on sports shirts among reforms to be watered down’, adding that “according to sources familiar with the discussions, No 10 is likely to block the introduction of a compulsory levy in favour of greater voluntary contributions amid fears of imposing further taxes on the industry”.

This story was picked up in other national media including:


David’s article goes on to advise UK licensed remote gambling operators on recent affordability-related developments:

  • to take particular note of the recent Progress Play Public Statement published by the Gambling Commission on 17 May, in which the regulator stated that the operator “did not conduct affordability assessments for individuals picked up by existing or new thresholds and triggers which indicate consumers experiencing harm (contrary to Paragraph 2(e) of the Commission’s updated [customer interaction] guidance dated 12 May 2020)”, and
  • to:
    • check that additional player protection measures introduced by the Commission back in May 2020 are properly implemented into their customer interaction framework for the purposes of preventing gambling related harm and
    • bear in mind that wholly new customer interaction guidance will be coming into force on 12 September 2022 (as previously reported on the Clifton Davies website here).

On this subject, the above-mentioned Times article of Sunday 29 May states: “Among other measures expected to be included in the white paper, which has yet to be agreed by No 10, are plans for affordability checks — similar to the credit checks on those applying for a mortgage — to be carried out if it is shown people are losing thousands of pounds”. Who knows whether it might forecast news of an about-turn on that front next weekend?!

What we most certainly do know is that nothing will be known for sure until the White Paper is eventually published.

UPDATE: Linked to comments within David’s article on gambling advertising, and as reported elsewhere on the SBC News website today (30 May 2022), Spanish online gambling association Jdigital is to argue before Spain’s Supreme Court for a “constitutional probe of Spain’s blanket ban on gambling advertising”.