UK Soccer Stars Become Sports Betting Brand Ambassadors Despite Recent Ban

Top UK sports betting brands using former soccer players turned commentators and experts as their brand ambassadors promoting betting on the FIFA World Cup are causing controversy and comments that the ads are not in the spirit of recent regulations banning the use of celebrities for gambling promotion.

Slippery Rules Let Gambling Companies Use Pundits

The Guardian reported that top sports betting brands are using soccer celebrities as their brand ambassadors contrary to new regulations from the Advertising Standards Authority that came into force on October 1, 2022. 

The new rules stipulate that gambling companies are not allowed to use celebrities or famous sports personalities that may appeal to younger audiences in their gambling ads. 

However, there are some grey areas in the regulations as former top club soccer players and managers are considered not particularly popular among young people and, thus, are subject to individual assessment dependent on their popularity in traditional and social media.

And this is exactly what sports betting companies have been using in their advertising in connection with the FIFA World Cup that started on November 20 in Qatar.

For example, BetVictor has chosen Harry Redknapp as its brand ambassador for the World Cup. Redknapp used to be the manager of West Ham and Spurs but he also won one of the popular British reality shows I’m a Celebrity …Get Me Out of Here! back in 2018.

Paddy Power, operated by Flutter, has made a bet on former English striker Peter Crouch. While Betway has made a brand ambassador agreement with Robbie Keane, who used to be part of Tottenham and also played for the Republic of Ireland.

Sports betting brands argue that using former soccer stars in their ads is not breaching the rules.

There is a lot at stake for sports betting operators as the last FIFA World Cup brought in $142 billion with this tournament expected to bring in just as much. 

Charities Working with the Effects of Gambling Harm Condemn the Use of Celebrities

Gambling with Lives representative Tom Fleming has noted that the use of any celebrity for promoting sports betting during the World Cup is not in the spirit of the new regulations introduced by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Fleming also expressed an opinion that no current or former soccer player or manager should be promoting products that are proven to be highly addictive.

The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) expressed concern that promoting sports betting during the World Cup will lead to more people getting hooked on gambling and experiencing problems related to gambling harm.

The British government is still working on a change in Britain’s gambling legislation which has been delayed a couple of times due to the recent turmoil in British politics. However, these changes should be introduced soon and are very likely to limit gambling advertisements to an almost full extent.

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