Friday, December 08, 2006

Britain looks at banning gaming shirt sponsorship

Online gambling companies may be stopped from advertising on English football shirts. The UK Gambling Commission is concerned such advertisements might be encouraging children to bet, especially when they appear on youngsters' replica kits for Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough and others. The sudden arrival on the scene of online gaming companies with huge advertising budgets has helped fuel a 25 percent increase in spending on shirt sponsorship deals in the English Premier League in the last season alone, with the amount now totalling £70 million.

Some clubs appear to have seen the row coming. Manchester United pulled out of shirt sponsorship talks with Gibraltar-based, Indonesian-linked betting group Mansion after becoming unhappy with the association with gambling. In May, Mansion signed up Spurs instead, in a £34 million deal. The club insisted the company could only use the word 'Mansion' and the logo, rather than the website addresses of its gambling sites.

However, "it is not clear whether such agreements would be enough to satisfy a critical Gambling Commission investigation," commented Jim Armitage in the Evening Standard, "as simply typing 'Mansion' and 'gaming' into Google takes viewers directly to the casino.

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