Bombardment of messages

A new study shows that soccer fans saw about 11,000 gambling messages over the course of the English Premier League’s opening weekend last month. The Bristol Hub for Gambling Harms Research carried out the study on behalf of 5 News and warned of the “overwhelming and inescapable” amount of pro-betting imagery in the sport.

insufficient mentions of safe gambling

The research took into account radio, television, and social media posts when looking at the saturation of these messages. Some of the report’s main concerns include the total volume of messages, social media content often not getting labeled clearly as ads, and insufficient mentions of safe gambling.

Some key insights

During six games broadcast live between August 11 and 14, viewers saw 6,966 gambling-related messages. This included ads during commercial breaks, ad boards around the pitch, and operator logos on jerseys. Only one-fifth of them contained a mention of safer gambling.

92% of the messages couldn’t be identified clearly as advertising

Another major concern is the prevalence of gambling firms engaging in content marketing whereby they discuss key stats from a game or talk about some of the key moments. The study found that 92% of the messages couldn’t be identified clearly as advertising, which means that they are actually in violation of advertising rules.

Another insight was the visibility of 600 gambling messages in just two hours of a Sky Sports News broadcast, while TalkSport had at least one betting ad in each commercial break.

No major change on the horizon

While Premier League clubs are banning betting-related logos appearing on the front of jerseys from the start of the 2026-2027 season, some believe that this measure doesn’t go far enough in tackling the close link between gambling and soccer. The study outlined how people will still see logos on pitch-side advertising boards and on the shirt sleeves of jerseys after the ban comes into place.

Premier League clubs agreed to the front-of-shirt ban over concerns about children and vulnerable people getting exposed to pro-gambling images.

The UK government recently published a white paper proposing various gambling legislation reforms, but did not suggest any major changes to soccer sponsorship or advertising in the sport. In a recent committee hearing, Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew referred to the lack of evidence that currently exists linking advertising and gambling harm.