Betting ads cut from UK sports broadcasts, still in stadiums

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus, second right, goes for the ball last Chelsea's Marcos Alonso, right, Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic, second left, during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in London, Saturday Dec. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

LONDON — Television advertisements for bookmakers will largely disappear from British broadcasts of live sporting events, although not completely.

The restrictions bookmakers have accepted don't prevent them from sponsoring teams or continuing to flash betting odds on electronic hoardings at stadiums, particularly during televised Premier League matches.

"I am sure that other issues such as perimeter advertising, shirt sponsorship (and) online advertising will remain on the agenda and the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling will look at it as part of its annual reviews of its code," the organization's chairman, John Hagan, told The Associated Press. "But for the moment, we should all recognize what the (betting) industry has done."

In a voluntary move by bookmakers, beginning in summer 2019, a "whistle-to-whistle" ban on betting advertising will apply to all live sports — apart from horse and greyhound racing — televised before 9 p.m. Betting advertisements must stop five minutes before the event starts and only resume five minutes after the conclusion. Bookmakers will also be prevented from sponsoring sports shows before 9 p.m.

Horse and greyhound racing are also exempt from the new curbs on advertising because they are so reliant upon betting revenue.

"(Bookmakers) have a right to advertise, so I don't think anyone should underestimate the amount of collaboration that's had to go in to reach consensus right across the industry ... to restrict their ability to advertise," Hagan said.

It is a response to public concerns about the impact of gambling addiction and follows the industry's "When the Fun Stops, Stop" campaign, which began in 2015.

Hagan predicted a "very significant loss of revenue for broadcasters," and Britain's biggest pay TV network criticized the ban on betting advertising. Comcast-owned Sky said more gambling advertisements will move online as a result.

"This doesn't feel like a good outcome for anyone except gambling firms and online tech platforms," said Stephen van Rooyen, Sky's chief executive of British and Irish operations.


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