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Gambling Is Evolving, But May Be Set For Its Biggest Challenge Yet

March 19, 2021

In our latest Meet The Team piece, Ben Page looks at how the world of gambling may have to evolve and adapt to increased restrictions in the coming years, and the potential knock-on effect for its sporting partners.

The world of gambling has been forever associated with sport, but modernisation has drastically changed entire industry.

Thanks to mobile phones and the rise of in-play betting, the ease at which people can now gamble is incredibly simple.

But for how long can this continue? A 2019 survey in Great Britain by the Gambling Commission revealed that 11% of 11-16 year olds said they had gambled in the previous week, betting on average £17 per person. Those are young people who do not have solid income and are well short of the legal betting age of 18.

If 11% of young people who are not of legal age are gambling, then imagine the number of sports fans within the 18-25 age range who have a betting account within the UK itself, it seems certain to be an incredibly high figure.

So what does this mean for sport? At the moment not a tremendous amount, as betting and its popularity continues to surge all around the world as it becomes more available, and it is likely to continue to rise greatly in the coming years.

The market within the United States is growing more and more by the day, as markets are legalised across the differing states further, this will take the world of gambling to the next level and boost the entire industry.

However, as gambling becomes more widespread, so does the negativity which can often surround it.

So what does this mean for the actual sport itself and the business of sport?

As governments begin to get wiser about the negative effects gambling can have on the population the more they are becoming more willing to crack down on it.

In recent times, betting brands have injected a huge amount of money into so many sports through their sponsorship of events and teams, becoming interlinked and synonymous with it at times, an example of which could be the William Hill World Darts Championship.

But in places such as Spain and Italy, betting brands have seen restrictions imposed as to how much they are allowed to sponsor, both countries banning front of shirt sponsorship by gambling companies.

While the USA is continuing to open up and allow further sports betting, these other markets are closing up, with the UK government currently looking into how much betting sponsorship is currently within the major sports and whether they need to impose further blocks in order to reduce the amount of gambling being done by the general population.

If these do come into effect, the knock-on for the sports industry could be large, as many of these companies pay huge fees to sponsor teams, particularly in football, where many of the Premier League and Championship clubs have betting sponsors.

Sport would survive without betting companies, but how much of a dent will it make on the industry if the UK and other European countries follow the lead of Italy and Spain. At the current time, this is revenue sport cannot afford to be losing.

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