EFL Accused of Submitting “flawed” evidence to Government Gambling Review

Evidence that sponsorship by gambling companies does not influence participation in betting has been criticised. The chair of a parliamentary group that is looking at gambling reform has described the evidence submitted by the English Football League (EFL) as “flawed.”

The EFL are sponsored by Sky Bet and wouldn’t like to lose that deal. It brings in £40m a year so its loss would seriously affect clubs. They say that if the current levels of gambling sponsorship were lost, some clubs could “go under.” Many have seen their finances severely hit by the pandemic that caused fixture postponements and games being played behind closed doors.

They therefore commissioned research into the subject of gambling sponsorship. That’s something which faces a possible ban in the future as the government reviews the way gambling in the UK is regulated. A much-delayed white paper into the subject is due out in the coming weeks.

It’s time therefore for the gambling industry and those who receive funds from it to defend their position. The research looked at the period 2010-2018 and found that the level of gambling participation “had remained flat at about 9% of the population.”

There are obviously concerns over the rates of problem gambling. However, the study showed that between the period examined, the rate of problem gambling in sports had in fact gone down from 6% to just 3%.

The results have been criticised and described as both “flawed” and “misleading.” It’s also been claimed that the research had a “pre-determined conclusion.” One that of course was not going to be appreciated by those looking at clamping down on gambling in the UK.

Carolyn Harris (Labour) is the chair of the All-Party Group for Gambling Related Harm. The chair says that the results of this study should be ignored by gambling minister Chris Philp. She added that the EFL evidence should be taken “with a massive pinch of salt.” The MP believes that the gambling minister will see a lot of the evidence he’s been going through as “flawed” and is “capable of disseminating truth from fiction.”

One criticism of the research is around does gambling sponsorship influence people to place bets, particularly with Sky Bet. It’s claimed that those asked were restricted to fans whose team had shirt sponsorship by a gambling company and if their team played in the EFL.

The number of pieces of evidence submitted to those reviewing the Gambling Act totals around 16,000. The gambling minister has said that if changes are made to the law, it will be based on an “evidence-led” approach.